The Highlanders kicked off their Super Rugby pre-season trial matches with a 15-11 victory over Australian rivals the Brumbies at the Queenstown Recreation Ground in Queenstown.
The Highlanders opened the scoring with a penalty to take a 3-0 lead before former Lions No.10 Lionel Cronje levelled the scores to 3-all.
The Brumbies scored the only try of the match when Sam Carter crossed in the first half and although the conversion was missed the Brumbies led 6-8 at the end of the first quarter after another Highlanders penalty.
Instead of the normal running rugby style in the Super Rugby warm ups both teams appeared to be more focused on their defensive measures.
After the break the Higlanders went into the lead with their third penalty to lead 9-8 but then Cronje hit back with another penalty.
At half time the Brumbies led 9-11 and in the final two quarters Lima Sopoaga kicked two further Highlanders penalties while the Brumbies were unable to add to their score.
The Highlanders play the Crusaders in their second pre-season warm up match at Motueka next Friday and TJ Ioane is the only early injury concern as he left the pitch with a shoulder injury which was troubling him before the kick off.
Meanwhile the Brumbies are concerned about Pat McCabe who was making his first appearance since breaking his neck last season.
McCabe was taken off the field after 15 minutes when he suffered a knock from bedhing while his head was down.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said that it was too early to say how long McCabe would be out of action.
"We'll have to be very careful. Concussions are very serious. We'll follow the protocols and make a decision," Larkham told AAP.
"But he had a strong 15 minutes, carried the ball well and made a couple of breaks."
Despite the loss Larkham said that he was happy that the Brumbies scored the only try of the match while also managing to prevent the Highlanders from scoring one.
"They kicked five penalties to win the game, so we're happy that our defence held out," Larkham said.
Final Score Highlanders 15 (9) Brumbies 11 (11)
Penalties : Hayden Parker 3, Lima Sopoaga 2
Tries: Sam Carter
Penalties: Lionel Cronje 2
1. Craig Millar,2. Liam Coltman (c),3. Ma'afu Fia,4. Jarrad Hoeata,5. Tom Franklin,6. Gareth Evans,7. Lee Allan,8. Elliot Dixon,9. Frae Wilson,10. Hayden Parker ,11. Richard Buckman ,12. Shaun Treeby (vc),13. Winston Stanley,14. Patrick Osborne,15. Trent Renata
Replacements : TBA
Brumbies Squad (alphabetical order)
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 Stainiforth, Haru Tetakawa, Jack Whetton, Stephan Van der Walt.