Smith stars in Brumbies victory
April 12, 2013
Brumbies flanker George Smith was a constant nuisance for the Highlanders in both attack and defence
© Getty Images
Stalwart flanker George Smith has led the Brumbies to a decisive 30-19 win against the Highlanders after his backs launched a relentless aerial assault against their winless Super Rugby foes in Dunedin.
Smith's highlights included forcing a turnover that led to an early penalty goal and scoring a try off the back of a disintegrated rolling maul in the 31st minute.
The Brumbies continued their trend of blitzing sides early, opening the scoring in the third minute when winger Henry Speight brushed off his opposite Hosea Gear, stepped inside fullback Ben Smith and then carried Ma'a Nonu over the line.
However the blistering start was immediately overshadowed by an injury to Brumbies' outside centre Andrew Smith.
The Highlanders bounced back immediately through three penalty goals to debutant fly-half Hayden Parker after keeping the ball closer to the fringes of the ruck to narrow the score to 10-9.
But the Brumbies didn't fall away from their game plan, with full-back Jesse Mogg and scrum-half Nic White bombing the Highlanders from the midfield and then applying pressure through a strong chase.
The tactic paid dividends in the 31st minute when the Highlanders failed to clean up a Mogg rainmaker and the Brumbies were rewarded with the 5-metre line-out from which Smith scored.
Gear looked to have crossed the line for the home side in the 37th minute when he crashed through three defenders but the Television Match Official controversially ruled he lost it forward centimetres from the ground.
Parker soon added another three points for the Highlanders to limit the Brumbies' lead to five points going into the break.
The Highlanders aimed to limit the pressure from the Brumbies' kicking game in the second half, chancing their arm by running it more.
But the Brumbies' chasing line continued to make it difficult for the Highlanders, forcing several turnovers after the home side lost counter-attacking ace Poki to a rib injury.
A long-range penalty to half-back Nic White and then Lealiifano's second penalty of the night extended the Brumbies lead to 11 points in the 49th minute.
Winger Joe Tomane swooped on a Highlanders knock-on and ran 55 metres to score under the posts to give the Brumbies a 30-12 lead in the 54th minute.
Scrum-half Aaron Smith came off the bench in the second half to snipe across for a try late in the match for the home team.
Brumbies coach Jake White was singing 32-year-old Smith's praises.
"He was outstanding. I don't like to single guys out - it's not my style - but, when you see a performance like that, it just highlights how good he actually is," White said. "He's getting better and better every week."
"They've got such a great back three with Hosea Gear, Ben Smith and Kade Poki, we knew that if we were going to kick, we'd kick properly and make sure we put them under pressure," White said. "Everything was on song. Defensively, we took another step up."
The Brumbies now return to Australia to play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane next Saturday while the Highlanders are away to their neighbouring rivals the Crusaders.
The Brumbies put on a professional display to earn a victory in Dunedin (Australia only)
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland