The Brumbies further silenced their doubters by ending the Highlanders' unbeaten start to Super Rugby 2012, overcoming them 33-26.
The Brumbies further silenced their doubters by ending the Highlanders' unbeaten start to Super Rugby 2012, overcoming them 33-26 in Canberra.
A couple of tries from wing Joe Tomane and one for openside flank Michael Hooper to accompany 18 points from the boot of Christian Lealiifano saw the Australian outfit cause a shock result.
Saturday's victory takes the Brumbies top of their conference, temporarily at least, with an improved intensity at the breakdown and strong counter-attacking ability helping them over the finish line.
It was the first taste of defeat in 2012 for Jamie Joseph's side, who were missing John Hardie and key player Adam Thomson for the clash.
Their tries came from Aaron Smith and Shaun Treeby, while Colin Slade added 13 points and Chris Noakes slotted over a penalty later on.
What will be a major worry for the Highlanders is the loss of fly-half Slade, who was taken off in an ambulance with a serious ankle fracture.
Slade, who injured his groin as Dan Carter's replacement for the All Blacks in last year's World Cup, has had dreadful luck with injuries, breaking his jaw twice in recent seasons.
The Brumbies were up 14-3 after 16 minutes after rugby league covert Joe Tomane scored twice. His first score came in fourth minute against the run of play as he intercepted a pass before running the length of the field to the line. Tomane's second try, after Slade had kicked a drop-goal, saw good work from outside centre Andrew Smith finished off by the wing.
The Highlanders pulled it back to trail 17-13 when Hosea Gear sliced through to put scrum-half Smith over, but the Brumbies led 20-13 at the break to warm their 12,000 supporters.
The resolute Highlanders levelled twice in the second half but the clinching try for the Brumbies came in the 63rd minute when Hooper picked up a loose ball from a maul and charged over for Lealiifano to convert for a 33-26 lead which they safely held to full-time.
Tries: Tomane 2, Hooper
Con: Lealiifano 3
Pen: Lealiifano 4
Tries: A Smith, Treeby
Con: Slade 2
Pen: Slade 2, Noakes
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Tevita Kuridrani.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 James Haskell, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Buxton Popoali'i.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)