A farcical kit clash bemused Super Rugby followers because the Highlanders scored an important 33-12 win over the Brumbies.
A farcical kit clash bemused Super Rugby followers on Friday night time as the Highlanders scored a crucial 33-12 trans-Tasman win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
Not for the primary time in Super Rugby historical past the avoidable kit clash noticed the Brumbies and Highlanders each carrying predominantly white jerseys and darkish shorts.
Gamers on either side gave the impression to be confused by the wall of white in entrance them in a state of affairs harking back to the Highlanders-Bulls recreation early final yr.
In contrast to that clash in Pretoria, nonetheless, there have been no jersey adjustments at halftime, making for an ungainly spectacle.
The Highlanders win put all of the strain on the Crusaders and the Blues within the race for the ultimate.
It means the Crusaders need to beat the Rebels by 33 factors in Sydney on Saturday – with a bonus level – to overhaul the Highlanders on the ladder.
The lads from Dunedin may even host the ultimate if the Crusaders fail to succeed in that massive goal and the Blues slip up towards the Power.
No matter how these video games play out, the Highlanders’ win will go down as a wise and gutsy effort that confirmed their large progress this yr.
For the second week in succession they did not concede a single level within the second half, though the dedicated efficiency might have come a value.
Wing Jona Nareki was changed after 60 minutes with a hard shoulder, whereas lock Pari Pari Parkinson was carrying an arm damage when he walked off after a formidable shift.
With 13 gamers injured and just one present All Black within the squad, the Highlanders out-thought and outworked the Brumbies.
Halfback Aaron Smith grabbed two tries in one other standout efficiency, and his second strive at first of the second half put the Highlanders 21-12 up, by three tries to 2.
In-form flanker Billy Harmon went over 10 minutes later because the Highlanders caught the Brumbies napping on the brief facet from a intelligent lineout transfer, and the bonus level victory all of a sudden regarded like a real chance.
Sio Tomkinson ran a brutal line from one other Smith go to attain the Highlanders’ fifth strive after 63 minutes, because the Highlanders turned up the physicality.
The back-row unit of Kazuki Himeno, Harmon and Hugh Renton was excellent on the sort out contest, with Himeno repeatedly placing his hand up for the laborious carries.
Regardless of a rocky final 5 minutes, the Highlanders held on and the celebrations after the sport indicated that they knew they’ve given themselves an actual likelihood of enjoying in subsequent week’s decider.
The Highlanders began with the lion’s share of territory, however some uncharacteristic inaccuracy at lineout time value them.
Twice they turned the ball over in good positions because the Brumbies muscled up defensively, and the Highlanders have been then made to pay as Len Ikitau opened the scoring for the house facet after 14 minutes with a properly labored strive.
Nevertheless, the Highlanders acquired their maul working on the third time of asking, and co-captain Ash Dixon crashed over.
The Highlanders have been decided to play the sport in Brumbies territory, with midfielder Michael Collins repeatedly stabbing kicks in behind the defensive position.
The territorial strain paid off and Smith scored superb strive after 26 minutes. In-form wing Nareki exploded onto a Mitch Hunt go to burst open the defence and handed inside to Smith, who was operating the assist line.
The Brumbies hit again once more with a maul strive of their very own after the Highlanders have been penalised 3 times in succession by referee Mike Fraser after initially failing to cope with the restart.
As anticipated, the Highlanders discovered the Brumbies laborious to interrupt down with ball in hand. The house facet competed closely on the breakdown and introduced good line velocity to the competition.
The Highlanders scrum had the sting and No 12 Scott Gregory acquired over the gainline at occasions, though he additionally copped a heavy sort out from Brumbies No 6 Rob Valetini after a excessive go from Hunt uncovered his ribs.
That staunch defence meant the Highlanders needed to struggle for each metre, and though they went into the sheds with a 14-12 lead the bonus level victory nonetheless regarded like a mountain to climb.
Nevertheless, the Highlanders saved their composure and took their possibilities once they got here up within the second half. They’re now inside touching distance of the ultimate.
Highlanders 33 (Ash Dixon, Aaron Smith (2), Billy Harmon, Sio Tomkinson tries, Mitch Hunt 4 cons). Brumbies 12 (Len Ikitau, Lachlan Lonergan tries) HT: 14-12
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