The Highlanders came from behind to win a close encounter 13-18 against the Brumbies at Gio Stadium in Canberra thanks to a late try from prop Aki Seiuli.
A try apiece, saw the Brumbies take a five-point 10-5 halftime lead after Tomkinson cancelled out Chris Alcock’s earlier try and Wharenui Hawera kicked a penalty and conversion.
A tight second-half saw Hawera and Marty Banks trade penalties before Seiuli scored, with seven minutes remaining to give the visitors the lead.
The Brumbies dominated for most of the first half and raced into a 10-nothing lead. Hawera kicked an early penalty before Alcock scored his first try for ACT on 27 minutes.
The flanker took the ball from the base of the maul, spun left and beat prop Daniel Lienert-Brown with a dummy and some pace, slipping Fletcher Smith’s cover defence to score in the corner.
Hawera kicked a tough conversion from near the sideline to stretch the lead to 10 points.
Both teams had some big scrums and chances for points but, some silly errors kept the scorers quiet. Joe Powell was keeping the home team on the front foot with some excellent kicking and Henry speight was dominating the Kiwis in the aerial battle.
Joe Powell was keeping the home team on the front foot with some excellent kicking and Henry speight was dominating the Kiwis in the aerial battle.
Despite this, the Highlanders only needed one chance and it duly came after a five-metre scrum to the left of the posts.
Aaron Smith darted to the openside, drew the defenders and spun a wide, cutout pass behind the decoy runners, Fletcher Smith and Malakai Fekitoato, to Richard Buckman, who sent the ball into Patelesio Tomkinson on the touchline.
The youngster sped into the empty space, halving the Brumbies lead. Fletcher Smith couldn’t add the touchline conversion but, the visitors had scored on the stroke of halftime.
Hawera extended his side’s lead with a 46th-minute penalty from long range to make it 13-5. Marty Banks kicked two penalties after replacing Fletcher Smith to make it a two-point game going into the final 15 minutes.
With seven minutes remaining, the visitors repeated their first-half score from the scrum. From the right side of the posts, the Highlanders took the ball up first, through Buckman, who was stopped short.
Aaron Smith looked for a runner and found Aki Seiuli, the replacement prop, who powered over from close range.
Banks’ simple conversion gave the Highlanders a five-point lead, one they would not relinquish.
The Brumbies had two chances late in the game to win but could not get the job done as the Kiwis held on.
Final score Brumbies 13 (10) Highlanders 18 (5)
Tries – Alcock
Pen – Hawera (2)
Con – Hawera
Tries – Tomkinson, Seiuli
Pen – Banks (2)
Con – Banks
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
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