The Highlanders staged a late comeback to edge the Brumbies 22-23 at GIO stadium in Canberra on Saturday in wet conditions.
The result ends a ten match winning streak at home for the Brumbies and is also the Highlanders fifth straight win over the Brumbies.
Dunedin’s Highlanders arrived in Canberra desperate for victory after they were humbled 20-42 at home las weekend and although it took until the final minute of extra time they delivered.
The Highlanders opened the scoring with a penalty from Josh Ioane after three minutes of play.
The Brumbies scored the first try in the 11th minute when they set up a maul which was driven over the line = with the help of a couple of the backs – allowing Folau Fainga’a to score the first of his three tries.
Noah Lolesio missed the conversion but Fainga’a scored again on the half hour mark. This time Lolesia was successful with his conversion and the Brumbies lead 12-3.
The Highlanders hit back immediately when following the restart Lolesio’s clearance kick was charged down by Jona Nareki who scored. With Ioane’s conversion and then a late penalty the HIghlanders led 12-13 at the break.
The Highlanders went further ahead after the internal with an Ioane penalty kick for offside.
With around 15 minutes remaining Fainga’a scored his third try which was converted by Ryan Lonergan. That lead was extended to 22-16 when Lonergan kicked a penalty in the 74th minute.
The Brumbies attempted to wind down the clock by holding on to the ball but instead they conceded a string of penalties and lost Murray Douglas to the sin bin.
The Highlanders had one last attempt to steal the victory and in the 83rd minute Teariki Ben-Nicholas was driven over the line and with Ioane’s conversion the Dunedin side snatched a one point win.
The Brumbies took a consolation losing bonus point away from the result but will be annoyed at letting the victory slip through their hands at the death.
Next week the Brumbies cross the Tasman as they play the Chiefs in Hamilton while the return to New Zealand as they play the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Final Score Brumbies 22(12) Highlanders 23(13)
Tries – F.Fainga’a 3
Pen – R.Lonergan
Con -N.Lolesio, R.Lonergan
Cards – M.Douglas (yellow 82nd min)
Tries – J.Nareki, T. Ben-Nicholas
Pen -J.Ioane 3
Con – J.Ioane 2
Cards – S.Tomkinson (Yellow 44th minute)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1:AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2:Damon Murphy
TMO :Ian Smith
15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Tom Ross, 18 Scott Sio, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Andy Muirhead
15 Josh McKay, 14 Sio Tomkinson, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jesse Parete, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Conan O’Donnell, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas