The Brumbies hit top form after their draw against the Kings last week, beating the Highlanders in Dunedin to remain top of the Australian conference.
The Brumbies never looked like being in trouble in this match, scoring three tries to a single late try from the Highlanders, winning 30 – 19 after leading 17 – 12 at half time.
The Brumbies got off to a great start, getting out to a ten point lead in the opening minutes. An early try from Henry Speight and a conversion and penalty from Christian Lealiifano set up the Brumbies. The Highlanders kept themselves in the match through flyhalf Hayden Parker, who kicked four penalties in the first half. The Brumbies scored their second try of the first half through George Smith, stretching out to a 5 point lead at half time.
The Highlanders capitalised on the breakdown penalties, from which Parker scored the twelve points in the first half. Parker was the stand out performer for the Highlanders, keeping the more experienced Colin Slade on the bench.
The second half again saw the Brumbies scoring early points, through penalties from Lealiifano and a long range effort from Nic White. The third try, from their own half, for Joe Tomane put the match beyond doubt as the Brumbies led by 18 points. Even a late try from Aaron Smith for the Highlanders could not get the team a losing bonus point.
Performance wise, the Brumbies were in control but were never forced to hit top gear as the Highlanders battled to put any pressure on them. Henry Speight was a menace on attack, gaining plenty on attack and the Highlanders not able to limit his space. For the Highlanders, they have now lost seven from seven and do not look close to winning a match. Their ball retention is poor, and even with ball in hand, the attack is limp and clueless.
It doesn’t get easier for the Highlanders as they travel to Christchurch next week to face the Crusaders, while the Brumbies go up against their Australian Conference rivals the Reds, in a match that is likely to determine the winner of their conference.
By Richard Ferguson