Brumbies fall to Smith-led Highlanders

Aaron Smith masterclass at GIO Stadium in Canberra. Photo: Getty Images

The Brumbies have failed to take a second Kiwi scalp, disappointingly falling to the Highlanders in their Friday night Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash in Canberra.

The Australian heavyweights were hopeful of backing up last week's win over the high-flying Hurricanes, but were outplayed 33-12.

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The bonus point win sent the men from Dunedin to the top of the ladder, with the two leading teams at the end of the round playing off in the final next Saturday.

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith orchestrated the victory with a try in each half while he also set up another for winger Sio Tomkinson.

Len Ikitau finishes off a strong team move.

The Brumbies were right in the contest at half-time, trailing 12-14, but didn't rise to the challenge in the second stanza at GIO Stadium.

Smith darted across the line from the back of the scrum to inflict the first wound in the 46th minute.

While the Brumbies pride themselves on their set-piece they were outsmarted at a five metre line-out when the Highlanders found Billy Harmon on the short side.

A beautiful move from the Highlanders for the little master to chalk another try.

And then Smith, New Zealand's most-capped halfback, threaded a pass to Tomkinson to score their fifth try of the night and crucially put the Highlanders into bonus point territory. 

The Brumbies did their best to spoil their opponents' finals hopes with a late try but couldn't find their way to the line.

Earlier Brumbies hooker Lachlan Lonergan boosted his Wallabies selection chances with a try from a rolling maul.

Centres Irae Simone and Len Ikitau also combined for a first-half try to press their claims for a call-up for the Test squad to face France next month.

BRUMBIES 12

Tries: Ikitau, L. Lonergan

Cons: Kuenzle

HIGHLANDERS 33

Tries: Dixon, Smith 2, Harmon, Tomkinson

Cons: Hunt 4

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