A try after the fulltime siren has enabled the Highlanders to pip the Brublies in Super Rugby. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS

rugby union

Highlanders pip Brumbies after the siren

2020-02-15 22:18:38

The Highlanders stole a Super Rugby victory from the Brumbies in Canberra, scoring a converted try in the 84th minute to win 23-22 on Saturday night. 

The Brumbies coughed up the ball with 15 seconds remaining and it ended their 10-game winning run at home as the Highlanders made it five straight victories against the ACT men. 

Brumbies hooker Folau Faingaa scored a hat-trick of rolling maul tries but it wasn’t enough as they were kept scoreless with a man advantage in the second half at Canberra Stadium.  

Highlanders winger Sio Tomkinson was extremely lucky to avoid a red card after making no attempt to wrap his arms as his shoulder made contact with Tom Banks’ head in a tackle.

Referee and former Super Rugby player Nic Berry deemed the initial contact shoulder to shoulder and only opted for the sinbin in the 45th minute, but the replays didn’t look good. 

The Highlanders hung tough before Teariki Ben-Nicholas crashed over next to the posts after the siren and Josh Ioane slotted the match-winning conversion. 

“This is a tough place to come. There was a lot of courage showed in that last five or six minutes,” Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said.

“I’m really proud of the way we fought back and gave ourselves an opportunity to win it. We train for those scenarios and I thought the guys executed their plan very well.”

The Brumbies were forced to make two late changes with Irae Simone and Darcy Swain ruled out with a virus which saw Caderyn Neville and Lenny Ikitau start.

Lock Nick Frost came onto the bench and 18-year-old former schoolboy sensation Reesjan Pasitoa became one of the youngest players in Brumbies history in the 72nd minute. 

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar remained proud of his men and said it was the right call to try and run down the clock on their line with 90 seconds remaining. 

“We were one more carry away from putting the ball into touch and it’s a pretty famous six-point win, but they were good,” McKellar said. 

“We couldn’t get any real tempo within that (sinbin) period and they’ve got a pretty good No.9 (Aaron Smith) there who controlled the game well … in particular that 10 minutes.

“It was a tough night to play a whole lot of footy, wet conditions made it difficult.”

The Highlanders took an early 3-0 lead but the Brumbies settled and scored on their first attacking opportunity as Faingaa crossed for his first.

Consecutive penalties saw the Brumbies earn another five-metre lineout and Faingaa, the franchise’s leading try-scorer last season, celebrated his second try on 30 minutes.

But the Highlanders immediately hit back from the kick-off when rookie five-eighth Noah Lolesio was charged down by Jona Nareki who regathered and scored.

Ioane slotted another penalty and the Highlanders took a 13-12 lead into the break before kicking another three-pointer in the 42nd minute. 

Hat-trick hero Faingaa scored his third and a Ryan Lonergan-penalty made it 22-16 in the 74th minute.  

The Brumbies conceded a ruck penalty in the final seconds and then lock Murray Douglas was sin-binned before the Highlanders finished the job in front of 7270 stunned fans.