Super Rugby - Brumbies clinical in defeat of Highlanders

A thundering tackle by ACT Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani that forced a turnover summed up the Otago Highlanders 30-19 loss to the table-topping Brumbies in their Super Rugby clash at Otago Regional Stadium.

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Super Rugby - Brumbies clinical in defeat of Highlanders
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ACT Brumbies player Pat McCabe (2nd L) and team-mate Henry Speight (R) attack (AFP)

The Dunedin-based side, tipped as potential title contenders before the competition began, have lost all seven games this season and are rooted to the bottom of the table.

Friday's loss had its genesis in far too many errors against a clinical Brumbies side, who dominated the breakdown and were ruthless in their defensive pattern.

That ruthless edge was no more evidenced when Kuridrani's tackle on opposite Phil Burleigh 13 minutes into the second half dislodged the ball, which winger Joe Tomane scooped up and sprinted untouched more than 50 metres to score under the posts.

The conversion by inside centre Christian Lealiifano gave them 13 unanswered points shortly after the break and took the visitors to a 30-12 lead, ending any hopes the Highlanders had of snapping their losing streak.

The Brumbies have also fully embraced World Cup winning coach Jake White's template of kicking high for territory and forcing the opposition to make errors inside their own half.

Both of their first half tries came from errors, with the first in just the second minute a result of Hosea Gear dropping the ball before Brumbies winger George Speight barrelled over.

The second try, in the 30th minute, came from a lineout that had been created from another dropped ball and evergreen flanker George Smith peeled off the rolling maul to cross.

Lealiifano converted both tries and added a penalty, while Otago fly-half Hayden Parker slotted four penalties for the home side to keep them within sight at 17-12 by half-time.

The Brumbies, however, simply strangled the Highlanders in the second half with two early penalties, one from long range by scrum-half Nic White, and Tomane's try to move back to the top of the table on 33 points.

All Blacks scum-half Aaron Smith's 75th minute try, which Parker converted, was some consolation from some late endeavour but the hosts were never really in the game after the break.

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