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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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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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