H'landers upset Brumbies applecart
The Highlanders caused the first pre-season upset when they beat the much-fancied Brumbies 15-11 in their Super Rugby warm-up match.
The Highlanders caused the first pre-season upset when they beat the much-fancied Brumbies 15-11 in their Super Rugby warm-up match in hot conditions in Queenstown on Friday.
This was not your usual pre-season game with both teams focusing a great deal on defence, with all the winning team's points coming via the boot and the Brumbies scoring the only try of the game.
The Highlanders' set-piece was strong and their defence was another positive to take from this hit-out.
With their scrum also dominant, the Highlanders managed to affect some crucial turnovers.
Some pre-season wobbles were evident in both sides, with passes going down during crucial moments.
Brumbies lock Sam Carter scored the game's only try in the first quarter, with the rest of the visitors' points comprised two penalties to their new South African import, utility back Lionel Cronje.
The Highlanders landed three penalties in the first half and two in the second spell, which they won 6-0.
Hayden Parker put the home side ahead, but they trailed 6-8 heading into the second quarter after Carter crashed over from close range for his unconverted try.
The visitors led 11-9 before the mistakes multiplied in the second half, not helped by mass changes made to both teams.
The Brumbies weren't helped by the sin-binning of centre Andrew Smith in the final quarter.
The Highlanders fielded 11 debutants, including six who are yet to taste Super Rugby, while world class Brumbies openside flank David Pocock returned after missing most of the 2013 season with a serious knee injury.
The Highlanders' second pre-season game is against the Crusaders at Motueka on Friday next week, while the Brumbies host an ACT XV in Canberra the following day.
For the Highlanders:
Pens: Parker 3, Sopoaga 2
For the Brumbies:
Pens: Cronje 2
Yellow card: Andrew Smith (Brumbies, 65 - repeated infringements at the breakdown)
Highlanders: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Lee Allan, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Liam Coltman (captain), 1 Craig Miller.
Replacements - from: Josh Bekhuis, Shane Christie, Liam Coltman, Matias Diaz, Kane Hames, John Hardie, TJ Ioane, Chris King, Nasi Manu, Brayden Mitchell, Brad Thorn, Joe Wheeler, Kurt Baker, Phil Burleigh, Jason Emery, Malakai Fekitoa, Buxton Popoalii, Willie Ripia, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby, Frae Wilson, Lee Allan, Craig Millar, Ged Robinson.
Brumbies squad: Allan Alaalatoa , Fotu Auelua, Jarrad Butler, Sam Carter, Robbie Coleman, Lionel Cronje, Michael Dowsett, Matt Hawke, Conrad Hoffman, Rod Iona, Josh MannRea , Pat McCabe, Lachlan McCaffery, David Pocock, Leon Power, Clyde Rathbone, Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Andrew Smith, JP Smith, Michael Smith, Ruan Smith, Henry Speight, Tom Staniforth, Haru Tetakawa, Jack Whetton, Stephan Van der Walt.
Referee: Garratt Williamson