Former Super Rugby champions the Brumbies host another former Super Rugby champion in the 22nd meeting between the teams.
The Highlanders won both games last season, including the quarter-final in Canberra which the Kiwis won 15-9.
Ben Smith returned last week after being out with a concussion. Henry Speight has been immense recently and, Joe Powell is the rising star in Aussie rugby at half-back.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
The players are out on the field.
Jordan Smiler leads the home team out in his 50th Super Rugby game.
BEEP! Marius van der Westhuizen gets us underway in Canberra.
2.00: Some early mistakes in the line-out sees the visitors attacking. There is dew on the ground and there has been rain in ACT earlier in the day, so handling might be tricky.
4.00: Another messy line-out but, the highlanders keep the ball.
6.00: Big hit on James Dargaville by Patelesio Tomkinson who hit him on the jaw after the mark was called. He’s up, though. TMO says the player ducked and only s penalty. Good call.
7.00: Brumbies struggling to get out of their half. They go through the phases in the tight areas around the ruck before kicking.
8.00: The Highlanders return the kick, Aaron Smith with a banana kick and Speight clears.
9.00: Malakai Fekitoa makes a break and is tackled by Tevita Kuridrani; a good hit to stop the marauding centre.
10.00: Brumbies clear from the line-out.
11.00: smith breaks to the openside but, switches play. The Brumbies win the ball at the ruck and are looking to exit their 22.
14.00: The Brumbies go through the phases and take the ball into Highlanders’ territory. They win a penalty for a side entry at the breakdown.
15.00: PENALTY! Wharenui Hawera slots the three.
18.00: The Highlanders lose the ball in good field position, the hosts clear, the kicking duel ensues and the ball is put out on the full by the Brumbies.
19.00: Penalty! Scott Fardy is pinged at the back of the line-out. Highlanders have the line-out 10 metres out.
20.00: Oh dear, they lose the ball at the back and the Brumbies have the scrum inside their 22.
21.00: BIG SCRUM! The visitors bulldoze the hosts but, they lose the ball on the goal line.
23.00: Malakai Fekitoa clears the lines after the Brumbies kick deep into the Highlanders’ half.
24.00: Fletcher Smith drops a high ball under pressure from Jordan Smiler; scrum Brumbies around centre-field.
25.00: BIG SCRUM by the Brumbies! They shove the opposition backwards and win a penalty. They kick to touch and have an attacking line-out inside the 22.
26.00: TRY Chris Alcock! The flanker takes the ball at the base of the maul, spins left and beats Daniel Lienert-Brown with a dummy and pace, slipping the Fletcher Smith cover defence to score in the corner.
27.00: Hawera kicks a tough conversion from near the sideline to stretch the lead to 10 points.
30.00: Powell has his kicking boots on and, is keeping the Brumbies on the front foot. The hosts are attacking inside the opposition territory but, are penalised at the breakdown.
31.00: Henry Speight is winning everything in the air, the visitors are struggling with their handling and lose another ball forward. Scrum to the home team.
33.00: Brumbies go wide but, lose the ball into touch with a wayward pass. The Highlanders have a chance to attack in good field position.
35.00: Ben Smith dances his way through a couple of tackles but, is tackled short. Elliot Dixon goes close but is stopped. Aaron Smith sends it wide and the referee blows up for no advantage. Alcock the man penalised. The Highlanders opt for a scrum, under the posts on the 5.
36.00: Henry Speight is penalised for offside. another scrum and, the home team are in yellow card territory now.
38.00: TRY Patelesio Tomkinson! The winger gets his first Super Rugby try after receiving a skipped pass from Richard Buckman. The centre took a pass from Aaron Smith, who passed behind the decoy run of Fletcher Smith and Malakai Fekitoato start the move. Not often you see a try from first-phase play.
39.00: The conversion is missed from the right-hand sideline but, the Highlanders are on the board and, on the stroke of halftime.
Alcock has been immense at the breakdown and has a try from a slick line-out move which was credited by Wharenui Hawera as a “Stephen Larkham special.”
The Brumbies have spent 34 seconds inside the Highlanders’ 22 whereas, the visitors, have spent four minutes 13 seconds in theirs.
The halftime score was Brumbies 10 Highlanders 5
BEEP! We are back in Canberra.
41.00: Larkham says, “the first 20 minutes were pretty ordinary” and he wants the team to attack the short-side in the second-half.
43.00: The Brumbies are on the charge inside their half.
44.00: The Brumbies have a scrum on the halfway line.
45.00: Penalty to the hosts after Dixon is caught offside. Hawera opts for the posts.
46.00: PENALTY! Hawera from 40 metres out and it’s good.
47.00: A mix-up between Scott Fardy and Hawera leads to the forward slicing a punt into touch, just on their 22. What is going on?
48.00: The Brumbies win the maul and have a scrum; the mix-up is not costly.
50.00: Offside. The crowd isn’t happy with that call by Marius van der Westhuizen. Looks a marginal call there. Marty Banks takes over from Fletcher Smith who is off.
51.00: PENALTY! It’s good from the replacement stand-off.
53.00: The crowd are booing again for a carry back into the 22. James Leckie, the assistant ref calls it right. The Highlanders get the line-out.
56.00: Some kicking battles being played out between the teams.
57.00: The hosts have a line-out on the halfway line. The drive it up the field and set up a maul. The maul went 15 metres and then Powell fumbles. Highlanders ball. The scrumhalf drops it at the base of the maul after the ref tells him to use it.
58.00: Ben Alexander and Lolo Fakaosilea enter the field. Alex Ainley and Siate Tokolahiis are off for the visitors. Siosuia Halanukonuka and Joe Wheeler replace the starters.
59.00: Scott Sio and Rory Arnold are on for the Brumbies. Highlanders attack inside the 22 of the home team but, again, lose the ball.
61.00: Scrum to the hosts.
63.00: Fakaosilea penalised for a late hit on Aaron Smith. Banks calls for the kicking tee. Harsh call from the official.
64.00: PENALTY! Banks reduces the deficit to two from in front. Aki Seiuli is on for Daniel Lienert-Brown.
66.00: Siosuia Halanukonuka is pinged for not rolling away at the ruck. The Brumbies have a line-out inside the visitors’ 22.
67.00: Carter takes the ball and the Brumbies drive about 10 metres and, then knock it on, Powell with another mistake which halts the charge.
68.00: Saia Fainga’a makes a return to an applause; a blast from the past, after 3000 days since his last Brumbies’ appearance. Defensive scrum for the visitors.
70.00: Some counter rucking sees the Brumbies start a bit of aerial ping-pong. It settles and, Ben Smith clears. Speight passes to a teammate and the hosts clear.
72.00: A charge down leads to a TMO decision for a try. Looks like Alcock has held up the attacker on the try-line. Held up it is. Scrum to the visitors on the 5.
73.00: TRY Aki Seiuli! The prop powers over from close range after receiving Aaron Smith’s short pass. The conversion takes the Highlanders into a five-point lead.
75.00: The Brumbies get a scrum on the Highlanders’ 5. Can they retake the lead?
77.00: The Brumbies go several phases and, with the penalty advantage, attack. Halanukonuka is offside. Fardy calls for another scrum.
78.00: Play is stopped for an injury. It’s now or never for the Brumbies. The scrum collapses. Reset.
79.00: Time is ticking down and, oh no, the Brumbies are penalised after a few pick and drives. Right call.
80.00: The hooter goes and the home team have one last chance. Scrum inside the visitors half.
82.00: Injury time. They have a penalty for a no-arms tackle; they’ll kick to the corner and set up a driving maul.
83.00: The Brumbies edge closer. Desperate defence by the Highlanders.
84.00: GAME OVER! the Brumbies lose the ball and with that, the game.
The final score is Brumbies 13 (10) Highlanders 18 (5)
Tries – Alcock
Pen – Hawera (2)
Con – Hawera
Tries – Tomkinson
Pen – Banks (2)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: James Leckie
TMO: Ian Smith
15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Blake Enever, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Nathan Mayhew
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Lolo Fakaosilea, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Jordan Jackson-Hope
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Matt Faddes