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How the Highlanders plan to beat the Brumbies ahead of must-win Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash

By Alex McLeod

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With a place in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final on the line, the Highlanders know what they need to do to secure victory over the Brumbies in Canberra this weekend.

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Fresh off their 59-23 thumping of the Waratahs in Dunedin on Saturday, the Highlanders will travel to the Australian capital this week with the task of taking down the Brumbies to potentially book their place in their first final since 2015.

However, as was made clear over the weekend when the Hurricanes were pipped 12-10 by Dan McKellar’s side, trying to win at GIO Stadium in the depths of the Canberra winter is no easy task.

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It’s for that reason that Highlanders assistant coach Riki Flutey is not putting any pressure on his team to chase a highly-valued bonus point win that would boost the Dunedin franchise’s chances of appearing in next week’s final.

“We’re not putting that extra pressure on ourselves because we want to go into the game with control, so we’re making sure that we ain’t loose with our structure, and we’ve talked over the last few weeks making sure that we’re not loose with our skill sets and ball carries as well,” Flutey said on Monday.

“A big focus for us is to keep control of the game and hopefully we play our game, put them under pressure, we’re going to score points.”

Just how the Highlanders do that will be by putting an extra emphasis on their discipline at the offside line.

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He used the Chiefs’ lack of discipline in their 40-19 win over the Brumbies last month as an example of how the Super Rugby AU runners-up can make teams pay when given the chance to do so.

“Discipline has been something that we have brought up. Against the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago, we showed the boys a clip,” he said.

“The Chiefs gave away a penalty inside their 22, [the Brumbies] kicked it out on halfway, they had a scrum, they [the Chiefs] gave away another penalty, [the Brumbies] kicked it into the five metre channel, and they scored.

“So, giving them those opportunities is something that we’ve talked about.”

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Flutey implored his players to be vocal about their discipline during the match given how strictly the offside laws are being officiated.

“It’s something that everyone can drive on the field because obviously the refs and the touchies look at that pretty heavily, but we’ve got to call that, get us half-a-yard onside to make sure that we are clean in and around those ruck areas.”

The battle at the breakdown will be just as important, according to Flutey, as he highlighted that it was an area that the Hurricanes were caught out in their defeat to the Brumbies.

“Our collision detail is going to be key, the way we carry into contact. A few guys in the Hurricanes were carrying pretty high and got turned over pretty easy, so the collision’s going to be really important for us and the detail within that as well,” he said.

Currently sitting in second place on the table, the Highlanders are tied for competition points with the Crusaders, with the two teams separated by a points difference of just 11.

That means the Crusaders will no doubt be out to pile the points on the Rebels when they go head-to-head in Sydney this weekend as they aim to leapfrog the Highlanders into a top two spot.

However, Flutey said his side need to focus on executing the fundamentals if they’re to come away from Canberra with a victory and keep themselves in the running for the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final.

“As I said before, that’s around how we control the game and how we play and stick to our plans. If we do that, we know we’re giving ourselves a really good shot.”

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How the Highlanders plan to beat the Brumbies ahead of must-win Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash

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