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Brumbies out of the blocks quickly in marathon race to finals

HIGHLANDERS 19 BRUMBIES 30

Old foes: George Smith of the Brumbies runs past Brad Thorn of the Highlanders.

Old foes: George Smith of the Brumbies runs past Brad Thorn of the Highlanders. Photo: Getty Images

The Brumbies have found their Super Rugby mojo and beating the Highlanders in Dunedin will be a massive boost for their finals dreams.

AS IT HAPPENED / MATCH STATS

But Brumbies coach Jake White has warned his team the race to the play-offs is "a marathon, not a sprint" as they hold on to top spot on the ladder halfway through the season.

Joe Tomane's long range try sealed the win for the Brumbies.

Joe Tomane's long range try sealed the win for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

In a grinding and gutsy performance built on defence, the Brumbies restored order to keep the Highlanders winless this season with a 30-19 triumph at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Most would have penciled it in as a win for White's men before kick-off given the Highlanders are languishing at the bottom of the ladder.

But after failing to deliver a killer blow to competition newcomers the Southern Kings last week, toppling the Highlanders was never going to be easy.

Joe Tomane scores a try against the Highlanders. Click for more photos

Highlanders v Brumbies

Action from the round nine Super Rugby clash between the Brumbies and the Highlanders. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

In the end the Brumbies scored three tries to one and never trailed in the 11-point win.

And while at times it was disjointed, and ill-discipline gave the Highlanders opportunities to get back into the contest, it could be a season-defining victory.

The Brumbies are now preparing for a blockbuster Australian derby with the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium next week.

Henry Speight showed poise to score the Brumbies first try.

Henry Speight showed poise to score the Brumbies first try. Photo: Getty Images

The winner will stake a massive claim for Australia's guaranteed spot in the finals.

"I said when I landed here that to win in New Zealand is not easy," White said.

"A mate just sent me a text and said remember this is a marathon, not a sprint in the tournament. That sums up exactly where we are.

"Little wins like this add up, but there's a long way to go before we get to the play-offs.

"Last week [against the Kings] just showed that if you're not at the top of your game, you can be turned around quickly."

The win reaffirms the Brumbies' standing as the best Australian team.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has rewarded their early season form with 11 players in a Test squad which will meet in Sydney on Sunday.

It's the biggest representation of any Australian team and a turnaround from when White took over at the start of 2012 and had just three Wallabies at his disposal.

While the Brumbies are back flying high, the struggling Highlanders are now trying to recover from the worst to a season in their history.

They are at the bottom of the ladder and have lost all seven games.

The Highlanders boast 10 All Blacks and a Japanese scrumhalf in their line-up and were never going to be a walkover.

But the Brumbies' resilient defence ensured they won the game and kept the desperate Highlanders searching for some luck.

The Brumbies got off to a flying start when Henry Speight showed poise to score down the right wing after just three minutes.

When George Smith crossed 25 minutes later the Brumbies looked like they would streak away to an easy win.

But they gave away too many penalties and third-string Highlanders flyhalf Hayden Parker booted four goals to keep his team within reach.

It wasn't until Brumbies winger Joseph Tomane swooped on a loose ball early in the second half and raced 50 metres that the Brumbies were comfortably in front.

"This is just a win ... we would have taken a 3-0 win but to score three tries and win by 11 points is a massive boost for us," White said.

"What I'm really proud of is there's a massive turn in the way we presented ourselves after last week and everyone could see the effort levels rise."

The match wasn't without its controversy with Highlanders winger Hosea Gear denied what appeared to be a certain try just before half-time.

Television match official Keith Brown ruled Gear lost the ball when everyone in the stadium thought he had grounded it over the line.

The Brumbies were far from perfect and readily admit they still have plenty to work on.

But like a well-drilled outfit, they took their minimal opportunities and shut the Highlanders out of the contest.

BRUMBIES 30 (George Smith, Henry Speight, Joseph Tomane tries Christian Lealiifano 3 cons Lealiifano 2, Nic White pens) bt HIGHLANDERS 19 (Aaron Smith try Hayden Parker con 4 pens) at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock.

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 3 vs HIG 14 Stats
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
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SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
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FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
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CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
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LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
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Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
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Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
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STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
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Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
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STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
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STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
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Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
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WAR vs RED 20:40AS
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BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
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