A converted Teariki Ben-Nicholas try handed the Highlanders a thrilling 23-22 win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
Despite a hat-trick of tries by hooker Folau Fainga’a, the Brumbies slipped to a disappointing defeat in a match, they will feel, that was there for the taking.
For the Highlanders, it’s a crucial result after last weekend’s heavy loss to the Sharks, but they will know that there is plenty of work to do if they are to have any meaningful say in this year’s competition.
Fainga’a seemed to have won the match for the home side with two tries in the first half, before wrapping up his hat-trick with 15 minutes left.
However, Ben-Nicholas saved the day for the Highlanders with a match-winning late try.
Next weekend the Brumbies will travel away to face the Chiefs, while the Highlanders travel to the Crusaders.
Brumbies – Tries: Folau Fainga’a (3). Conversions: Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan. Penalty: Lonergan.
Highlanders – Tries: Jona Nareki, Teariki Ben-Nicholas. Conversions: Josh Ioane (2). Penalties: Ioane (3).
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Tom Ross, 18 Scott Sio, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Andy Muirhead.
Highlanders – 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sio Tomkinson, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jesse Parete, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Conan O’Donnell, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.