ACT Brumbies off to another semi this time v Blues in the hope of a Final opportunity after a decent win in the QF tonight v Highlanders

by Sports Benches

The 4th and last Quarter-Final Super Rugby match of 2024 stops at GIO Stadium in Canberra as the 3rd placed ACT Brumbies welcome back the 6th placed Highlanders from Dunedin after being forced to sit outside the Top 8 last year for the first time since 2022. The first half was tight with the Highlanders benefiting the winning penalties such as two penalty conversions plus the one TRY but it was the Brumbies that controlled the pitch where they went into the break with a one-point buffer, 17-16.

In the end though, it’s all about the Brumbies who continued to extend their lead with another two tries – despite seeing another physical battle with Highlanders unable to get over the line even with the ball on hand before time ticks away against them towards full-time. The final score was Brumbies 32-16 Highlanders as the home fans will now book their flights by following their team with pride and optimism to Eden Park in Auckland v the Blues that will take place on Friday night this time around at 5pm during the early evening here. If you’re used to watching on 9Gem during Saturday nights, make sure you tune in 24 hours earlier for this special one in case you miss out. Before this game, Blues wrapped things up very easily at home turf 36-5 when they continued to shine their all-round attack while the Fijian Drua walked away with just the one TRY. 

One of the best Brumbies players on song off the wide right is Andy Muirhead following his outstanding Quarter-Finals performance v the Highlanders. What would life be like had he played for the Wallabies? Surprised it still hasn’t happened despite being 30 (hoping Joe Schmidt will consider him) where he unpacked so many tricks out of the bag thanks to the dominant possession. All he wanted is for the ball to come to him and that came at the right time when the Brumbies needed to go out wide and he’s your man to wrap things up like a gift present – just unbelievable as always. If one isn’t enough, Charlie Cale is the next best thing on the Brumbies 8 back row at age 23 – who not only was good defensively but also really impressive with his physical grit – that helped crack the walls past the Highlanders. He’s excellent at scrummage and maul time including at the ruck to dig it in while being an excellent support player with his mobility where tries were made possible for the Brumbies. He left the pitch after 50 odd mins in a very good position off the back of a good restart straight after half-time.

Now it’s up for the Brumbies to go one better for the Grand Final by going up against 2nd-placed Blues in Eden Park on Friday night. They’ve fallen short including the last semis encounter there when Super Rugby came back to normal two years ago as winning the trophy would mean anything & everything to both the Canberra-based team, the Wallabies & Rugby Australia.

And Highlanders No.10 Cam Millar was really good off his kicking tee in all areas that gave his team an early headstart thanks to the winning penalties & early Brumbies handling errors. Gotta credit the scrambled defense & the scrummaging where the Highlanders were able to pick up some positives against the No.1 Australian Super Rugby team like that restart later during the 1st half, having closed it out so quickly off the left by Jona Nareki. But their Finals comeback after finishing 6th has unfortunately came to an end after they were just unable to grasp their attack for the most part, especially with low possession while couldn’t get the job done from one point down in the last 40. There is still a long way to go which is a far cry when they used to be oh so good like a decade go but the Highlanders are getting there & hopefully be Top 4 by 2025-2026.

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