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The University of Canberra Brumbies have gone down in their first trial of 2014, falling 15-11 to the Highlanders in Queenstown on Friday.
Moving into the fourth quarter the scores were neck and neck with only penalties making the difference.
But two shots on the trot for the Highlanders and a UC Brumbies yellow card handed the win to the Highlanders.
"It was a physical game for our first match of the season and certainly there are some good things we can take out of the game," Head Coach Stephen Larkham said.
"We were right with them and could have won the game, but their goal kicking was quite accurate.
"We'll get back to Canberra tomorrow, re-group and focus on the ACT XV next weekend."
With Sam Carter's first-half try the only five-pointer of the game, the UC Brumbies went to both early breaks in the lead.
But the Highlanders landed penalties throughout the contest, eventually running away with victory.
The UC Brumbies fielded plenty of new faces, including Tom Staniforth, Michael Smith, Rod Iona, Lionel Cronje, Conrad Hoffmann, Lachlan McCaffrey, Allan Alaalatoa, Michael Dowsett, Matt Hawke, Harumichi Tatekawa and Jack Whetton, who all enjoyed their first spells in navy and gold.
David Pocock Captained the squad, while in his second-half absence McCaffrey took control of the Canberra-based team.
Cronje proved a class act with the boot, missing just one shot all night from a difficult angle.
The UC Brumbies will return to Canberra on Sunday ready to face the ACT XV next Saturday night at Viking Park.
Highlanders 15 bt UC Brumbies 11 (Sam Carter try, Lionel Cronje 2 pens).
University of Canberra Brumbies Squad (alphabetical order)
Allan Alaalatoa , Fotu Auelua, Sam Carter, Robbie Coleman, Lionel Cronje, Tim Cree, Michael Dowsett, Matt Hawke, Conrad Hoffman, Rod Iona, Josh MannRea , Pat McCabe, Lachlan McCaffrey, David Pocock, Leon Power, Clyde Rathbone, Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Andrew Smith, JP Smith, Michael Smith, Ruan Smith, Henry Speight, Tom Stainiforth, Harumichi Tatekawa, Jack Whetton, Stephan Van der Walt.