Highlanders aware of Brumbies' threats ahead of Super Round clash

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Assistant coach Clarke Dermody said they had still to produce their best on attack and felt it was close. But achieving that would be dependent on getting parity up front.


"They're probably the best team in Aussie at the moment, so we are aware of what we're walking into. A lot was written about what happened last year in this competition, so we fully expect to be up against it in Melbourne.


"They're a forward-oriented team so if we can nullify their pack it goes a long way in the game," he said.


"We had a tough game against them last year before the finals so it's a matter of us getting our game right," he said.



The team hadn't toured for a while, and there was a level of excitement around the trip. There was also something special around the weekend's super round in Melbourne, and he hoped that would be a good spectacle.


Dermody said he could understand why decisions were made around red cards for tackles involving players' heads and which cost lock Josh Dickson three weeks of suspension.


"Technically, he got it a bit wrong so if that is the precedent that has been set out then we understand why," he said.


Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua went unpunished for his blow to the head of No8 Gareth Evans, yet his post-game sanctioning did not help the Highlanders on the field.


Dermody said referees had a tough job, but if they were going to pick up one offence, they needed to pick them all up.


"It's such a big impact on the entertainment and, ultimately, the results," he said.


However, Dickson's loss will deny the Highlanders his experience. Until he left the field, he had played every minute for the Highlanders and was a key performer in their lineout.


"He's been around the team a long time, and this year, more than anything, his consistency has been outstanding. He's going to be a loss for a couple of weeks but what it does is give someone else an opportunity," he said.


Prop Ethan de Groot said the side had been building nicely, and it was now a case of pulling their play together for 80 minutes.


"There's a lot of things we're missing out there opportunity wise and we're not pulling the trigger so it is a bit of a reset for us looking to play the Aussies," he said.


De Groot said memories of last season when they made a slow start but managed to gain a place in the final showed what was still possible.


The Brumbies got a lot of wins out of their big ball carriers and their set-piece, so the Highlanders would be looking to make sure of the collision area and taking them on upfront at the set-piece.


"We're pretty even in the percentages at lineout and scrum time so we're looking forward to a good battle against them," he said.



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