Highlanders v Brumbies preview


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Carisbrook, Dunedin, 17.30 (5.30 GMT)

Playing the Highlanders at home used to be one of the fearsome assignments of Super rugby. But the Highlanders are no longer the team of yesteryear, and they are distinctly beatable.

And beat them the Brumbies must, if they are to sneak in through the backdoor to the semi-finals.

“It’s certainly a big game for us and our season’s on the line,” Brumbies skipper Stirling Mortlock said.

“But that’s been the case for the last five weeks and I think we’re pretty accustomed to being in this situation. We’ll be doing everything in our power to ensure we prepare as well as we can for the game, and our only focus is on the result we can control: beating the Highlanders.”

But don’t discount the Highlanders completely. Their front row, all in their last games for the Highlanders, is powerful, and they have a measure of potency out wide.

The Brumbies will have to go out and win this one, because they certainly will be given no favour in Dunedin.

Prediction:The Highlanders will fight to the end, but at the end of the day this clinical Brumbies outfit may turn out to be just a tad too ruthless for the somewhat cumbersome home side to counter. Brumbies by ten.

Highlanders: 15 James Wilson, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Jason Kawau, 12 Charlie Hore, 11 Matthew Saunders, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Josh Blackie (c), 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Clarke Dermody
Replacements: 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Chris King, 18 Hoani Macdonald, 19 Ezra Taylor, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Callum Bruce, 22 Glen Horton

Brumbies: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith, 6 Jone Tawake, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 Nic Henderson
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Peter Playford, 22 Francis Fainifo

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: tbc (South Africa), Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Television match official: Josh Noonan (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel, Brian Kinsey

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