Brumbies v Highlanders
Saturday 14 February, 9.15pm NZT at GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Nic Berry
Won: Brumbies 12, Highlanders 11
Last match: Brumbies 17, Highlanders 43 (14 April 2018)
The Highlanders have won their last four games against the Brumbies – their longest streak against them – including a 26-point win in their last meeting. The men from ACT have started their season strong with two wins from two matches and will be looking to make GIO Stadium a fortress in 2020. A win over the Highlanders will go a long way to establishing their title credentials.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made three changes to his starting XV ahead of their showdown with the Highlanders in Canberra on Saturday.
96-Test Wallaby loosehead prop James Slipper will start for the first time in 2020 with Scott Sio named as a replacement as the side look to make it three from three to start their season.
2020 recruit Will Miller gets his first opportunity in the number seven jersey, replacing Tom Cusack, who is rested following a head knock last weekend, while Darcy Swain will slot straight back into the second-row after recovering from injury.
The reshuffle also sees the return of crowd favourite Lachlan McCaffrey, local product Tom Ross and dynamic outside back Len Ikitau, who have all been named in the replacements for their first appearances this season.
A win on Saturday night will see the Brumbies increase their winning streak at GIO Stadium to 11, which would be the equal second longest in the club’s history.
McKellar said: “We’re really fortunate to be able to rotate James and Scott in the front row, it’s something that worked well for us last year and we’ll keep assessing it moving forward.
“It also gives local boy Tom Ross a chance for his first match this year, he’s been working really hard on his game during the preseason and performed well for the Runners last weekend to earn an opportunity.
“I’m excited to see Will get his first start as he’s been great for us off the bench and to have Locky back is excellent too, he brings a lot of experience and leadership to the team.
“We’re really looking forward to getting out in front of our home crowd at GIO Stadium for the first time on a Saturday this year and for a great crowd to turn out for an exciting match and also to support our Super W team playing beforehand.”
Saturday’s round three fixture will also be the first Double Header of the season, with the Brumbies Super W side set to begin their 2020 campaign against RugbyWA.
Average score: Brumbies 25 Highlanders 21
Last five results
Sat, 14 Apr 2018 Brumbies v Highlanders 17-43 Dunedin
Sat, 25 Mar 2017 Brumbies v Highlanders 13-18 Canberra
Fri, 22 Jul 2016 Elim Brumbies v Highlanders 9-15 Canberra
Sat, 30 Apr 2016 Brumbies v Highlanders 10-23 Invercargill
Fri, 24 Apr 2015 Brumbies v Highlanders 31-18 Canberra
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
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 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 Narkei 10: Mitch Hunt 9: Aaron Smith 8: Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 7: James Lentjes (C) 6: Shannon Frizzell 5: Josh Dickson 4: Jesse Parete 3: Siate Tokolahi 2: Liam Coltman 1: Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Conan O’Donnell, Jack Whetton, Dillion Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Michael Collins, Teariki Ben-Nicholas
Date: Saturday, February 15
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:15 (08:15 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)
WEEK THREE Matches
|14 February||Blues v Crusaders||Auckland||7:05 PM|
|14 February||Rebels v Waratahs||Melbourne||9:15 PM|
|15 February||Sunwolves v Chiefs||Tokyo||4:45 PM|
|15 February||Hurricanes v Sharks||Wellington||7:05 PM|
|15 February||Brumbies v Highlanders||Canberra||9:15 PM|
|16 February||Lions v Stormers||Johannesburg||2:05 AM|
|16 February||Jaguares v Reds||Buenos Aires||10:40 AM|