Highlanders vs Brumbies: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It was wet and windy in Invercargill but Tomas Cubelli was a shining light on an otherwise dour evening, but what else did we learn?

1. Brumbies still in limbo

The Brumbies will have to wait another week to wrestle back top spot in the Australian conference after a loss to the Highlanders on Saturday night. They sit two points behind the Rebels heading into a clash with the Bulls, before the two sides face off against each other in Melbourne in a fortnight, in a match that looms as the one that will decide the only Australian finalist.

2. Any points critical

Lima Sopoaga slotted 18 points for the Highlanders, taking every chance to hurt the Brumbies on the scoreboard. Christian Lealiifano had a perfect game in front of the sticks but had fewer chances to grow the tally.

3. Anything you can do, I can do better

He’s had a mixed start to his Brumbies career but Tomas Cubelli was super on Saturday evening. A try-saving tackle on humongous Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne and some sensational attacking involvements put the Brumbies in dangerous positions. At times it was a case of one upmanship, though, as his Highlanders counterpart Aaron Smith stepped up. He threw the last pass for the Highlanders’ opening try in a dominant performance

4. Why not play inside?

The Highlanders have a state of the art stadium in Dunedin and of course the weekend they play outdoors in Invercargill the heavens decide to open up. The cold, wet weather didn’t hurt thighlanders, though, who continued to play their kicking game and grind the Brumbies to a halt.Scott Sio made a positive impact off the bench. Photo: Getty Images

5.  Highlanders’ impenetrability

The Brumbies had almost all of the possession for much of the game and with 15 minutes left, had 116 rucks and mauls to just 23 for the Highlanders. The Highlanders were forced to make 57 tackles in the first half and had 120 overall. It’s a tactic that nearly cost the Highlanders the game against a fast-finishing Waratahs side but they didn’t have such issues against the Brumbies.