Brumbies to host Highlanders in finals showdown

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies will host the Highlanders in a Canberra quarter-final next Friday night, after a 24-10 win over the Force on Saturday night.

They needed to take just one point from their final round clash to topple the Waratahs and clinch the Australian conference win and while they completed that task with ease, the win was far from emphatic.

All the early momentum went the Force's way but it was Brumbies flyhalf Christian Lealiifano who finally opened the scoring, in the 20th minute, converting a scrum penalty right in front of the sticks.wh

Matt Toomua added a try to that count, finishing off a Rory Arnold break, collecting the final pass off Aidan Toua to score next to the posts.

The Force had an immediate answer to that, with an Ian Prior penalty and a Ben Tapuai solo try evening scores up 30 minutes in.

Dane Haylett-Petty’s last-line defence stopped the scoreline from blowing out, with the Force fullback holding up Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani over the line, reinforcing his value.

The ensuing scrums led to scores, first Lealiifano’s penalty and then a penalty try in the 36th minute, though.

Tevita Kuridrani added to the tally after the half-time hooter, compounding the pain of a disallowed Force try, with Kyle Godwin ruled offside just two minutes earlier.

The second half started much the same way as the first, a tussle from which no side could draw any scoreboard advantage.

Unlike the opening stanza, that margin remained until the final hooter in a scoreless back half of the match.

The Force had injury concerns before the match even kicked off, with reserve prop Francois van Wyk suffering a knee injury in the warm up.

The Brumbies are the only Australian team in the finals, set to host the Highlanders in a quarter-final next Friday night at 6pm AEST.

After some surprising results in New Zealand, the Hurricanes finished on top of the New Zealand conference, with the Highlanders second, sending the Chiefs and Crusaders into away finals, with at least one likely to be heading to South Africa.

The final makeup of the log will be determined by the result of Sunday morning's match up between the Lions, who currently sit on top overall, and the Jaguares, with an Argentinian upset having the potential to put the Kiwis on top.

BRUMBIES 24

(Tries: Toomua, Penalty Kuridrani Cons: Lealiifano 2, Toomua Pens: Lealiifano )

FORCE 10

(Tries: Tapuai Cons: Prior Pens: Prior )

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