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David Pocock makes a successful return
January 1, 2014
David Pocock warms up for Brumbies first trial, Brumbies v Highlanders, Queenstown, January 31, 2014
David Pocock played a solid 40 minutes in his return to rugby after last years season ending knee injury © Getty Images
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Wallabies flanker David Pocock has had a successful return to Super Rugby in the Brumbies loss to the Highlanders in their first trial match. However, Wallabies centre Pat McCabe was not so lucky, suffering a head knock in his return from injury, as the Brumbies went down 15-11.

The good news for last year's Super Rugby runners up is that stand-in captain David Pocock played a solid 40 minutes on Friday in his first game back since last year's season-ending knee injury.

"He went well, got himself involved and didn't look like he was thinking about his knee at all," Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham said.

However things didn't go as well for McCabe, who was playing his first game since breaking his neck for the second time in seven months last season. The hard-hitting centre was taken off in the 15th minute following a knock from behind while he had his head down.

Larkham said he was unsure how long McCabe, a veteran of 20 Tests, would be out of action. "We'll have to be very careful. Concussions are very serious. We'll follow the protocols and make a decision," Larkham said. "But he had a strong 15 minutes, carried the ball well and made a couple of breaks."

The Brumbies may have scored the only try in their first hit out of the season, but five penalties to the Highlanders proved enough to get the home side across the line.

Larkham said he was pleased with the performance, in what was his first game holding the reins since World Cup winning coach Jake White departed the club last season.

"They kicked five penalties to win the game, so we're happy that our defence held out," Larkham said.

The Brumbies jagged a slender 11-9 lead right on half time, courtesy of an unconverted try to Sam Carter and two penalty goals to new South African recruit Lionel Cronje. However, it would be the last points the visitors scored, with the Highlanders kicking a penalty goal in each of the final two quarters - the last of which was on the back of a yellow card to Brumbies back Andrew Smith.

The Highlanders looked more assured in the second half when the likes of Brad Thorn, TJ Ioane, John Hardie and Lima Sopoaga came on. Ioane exited the game gingerly late in the piece with a shoulder injury which had been troubling him before kickoff, but there were no other serious injuries from the game for the Highlanders.

While the match was second versus second last from last year's 2013 season, Larkham had elected to rest all members of the Wallabies' Spring Tour squad, as well as only playing his strongest side in the first half.

© AAP
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