We must build on success - Brown

20th Jul 2014, 11:02

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Tony Brown:  Proud of the Highlanders

Tony Brown: Proud of the Highlanders

Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown believes it's crucial for the Dunedin-based franchise to build on this season's success.

Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown believes it's crucial for the Dunedin-based franchise to build on this season's success.

The side reached the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time since 2002 and were amongst the unfancied teams at the start of the season after finishing in 14th position in 2013.

And despite coming off second-best to a dominant Sharks pack, the Highlanders held their own for most of the match before the hosts came from behind to clinch a 31-27 victory.

"It's a bit of a line in the sand for us as an organisation, especially the coaching team," Brown told New Zealand'sRadio Sport.

"The players I think enjoyed the season and making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years that's got to be pretty pleasing to Highlanders supporters and Highlanders management and organisation.

"I think it's just the starting point for us and we've got to be able to build on that next year and go further in the competition."

Brown praised his team for the way they fought back, after trailing 13-3, to take a 17-13 lead at half-time. That was thanks to two tries from Malakai Fekitoa and Kane Hames after superb counter-attacking.

The Sharks struck back with a tries from Bismarck du Plessis and Tonderai Chavhanga but another brilliant counter attack saw Phil Burleigh crossing over for the Highlanders' third try, which restored their lead, before Frans Steyn secured victory for the Sharks with two late penalties.

"We knew it was always going to be tough in the first 20 minutes when their forwards were fresh so they could physically take us on," added Brown.

"But we knew if we could not let them get away to too big a lead then we could come back and play some footy and I think we did that.

"Our plan was to keep the game fast because we knew we would get opportunities from that and (Hames' try) was probably one of the tries of the season from us."