Brumbies cruise into Super Rugby Pacific semi with victory over Highlanders

Brumbies in action. PHOTO/Brumbies

The Brumbies have secured a date with destiny against the high-flying Blues in Auckland after converting a one-point halftime lead into an authoritative 32-16 victory over the Highlanders in Saturday night’s fourth and last quarter-final.

The victory capped an undefeated home campaign, with a perfect 10-from-10 record at GIO Stadium in 2024.

However, their reward is a challenging one. Stephen Larkham’s benchmark Australian outfit must defeat the Blues away from their home fortress for the first time in over a decade to keep their hopes of snapping a 20-year title drought alive.

The Blues have not only won the past five encounters between the two sides at Australian rugby’s historical burial ground since 2013 but also thrashed the Brumbies 46-7 in a record-setting victory at Eden Park last April.

But that’s tomorrow’s problem as the Brumbies celebrate Saturday night’s second-half shut-out of the Highlanders.

The hosts had stars across the park, but no one was more influential than reigning John Eales Medallist Rob Valetini, who was enormous at the breakdown and typically powerful with ball in hand.

The Highlanders had opened the scoring with a second-minute penalty goal from Cameron Millar following a Brumbies scrum infringement.


But the Brumbies proceeded to dominate most of the first half, with center Len Ikitau and speedy winger Corey Toole both going close to scoring off Tom Wright kicks.

It seemed only a matter of time before the Highlanders yielded, and there was no denying Andy Muirhead in the 15th minute when the Brumbies spread the ball beautifully from the left all the way across to the right winger to finish.

Only Brumbies’ ill-discipline and turnovers kept the Highlanders in the contest as two more Millar penalty goals nudged the visitors into a 9-7 lead.

Noah Lolesio wrestled the advantage back briefly with a Brumbies penalty goal, only for the Highlanders to strike back with a try to winger Jona Nareki.

After four lead changes, the Brumbies deservedly had the final say of the half when hard-working hooker Billy Pollard crashed his way over to give the home side a 17-16 buffer at the break.

If the result was in doubt after Pollard bagged his second early in the second half, it didn’t look so when classy winger Muirhead showed Lionel Messi-like dribbling skills to complete his own double off a Lolesio cross-field kick in the 46th minute to extend the Brumbies’ lead to 13 points.

It was certainly all over when Lolesio slotted a second penalty to finish the night’s scoring—and the Highlanders’ season.

Minor premiers the Hurricanes will face the Chiefs in next week’s other semi-final, with the winners to host the 2024 title match.

Most Popular

Africa’s premier rugby website covering the latest Rugby news, results, transfers, fixtures. Get Kenya Rugby News and from the rest of the Unions.

Copyright © 2023 Powered by Scrummage Barber and SAFGAK Limited

To Top