Rugby: Brumbies take down Highlanders

Henry Speight of the Brumbies fends off a tackle during the round five Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Highlanders. Photo / Getty Images.
Henry Speight of the Brumbies fends off a tackle during the round five Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Highlanders. Photo / Getty Images.

Brumbies 33
Highlanders 26

Jake White's young Brumbies have claimed their biggest scalp of the Super Rugby season after taking down the previously unbeaten Highlanders 33-26 at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

Two tries in the first half to NRL convert Joe Tomane in just his second Super Rugby match pushed the Brumbies to a 17-13 lead at halftime before the home side held on for the upset.

The victory - the Brumbies' third of the season - pushes the ACT franchise to the top of the Australian conference and maintains their undefeated 2012 record in Canberra.

The Highlanders came into the game as the competition leaders after four wins in a row, but were looking vulnerable after losses to key players, including All Blacks backrower Adam Thomson.

Brumbies coach White spoke earlier in the week about the need to start strongly against the visitors, who ended up fielding five new players in their starting side.

It was Tomane who answered the call just four minutes when the winger took an intercept and sprinted 80 metres for his first Super Rugby try.

It set the tone for the Brumbies, who scored again 10 minutes later after hard-working flanker Michael Hooper broke the line and dished the ball off to Tomane to cross for his second.

At one point the Brumbies were 17-3 up, before Colin Slade's goalkicking and Aaron Smith's try in the 35th minute kept the Highlanders in the game.

Minutes into the second half, a try to debutant Shaun Treeby had the Highlanders draw level at 23-23.

But in the 62nd minute, Hooper dragged two Highlanders over the line with him to push the Brumbies back into the lead, which they held onto in front of 12,269 spectators.

- AAP

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