Toomua relishing Highlanders challenge

Brumbies midfielder Matt Toomua is relishing the prospect of taking on the Highlanders in Friday’s quarter-final in Canberra.

Although they are the only Australian side in the knockout rounds, the Brumbies will be confident of advancing to the semi-finals.

It’s the first time since the Melbourne Rebels joined Super Rugby that an Australian side has finished the season undefeated against conference rivals and the first time the Brumbies have finished as Australia’s top side since 2013.

Following their 24-10 win over the Western Force on Saturday, the Brumbies players say they are looking forward to the match ahead and are mindful of what they need to do to overcome the Highlanders.

Toomua feels the Brumbies must be wary of the danger the Highlanders pose and in particular, the play their back three are capable of.

“The Highlanders are very dangerous,” he said.

“Their back three strike a lot and they love to kick. They kick more than any other team in the competition so we’re going to have to be good.”

The first 40 minutes against the Force was definitely the better half for the Brumbies who scored all their points in that period.

Despite the slow start to game, all 34 points were scored in the first half. The Force began strongly but Toomua believes the Brumbies did well to hold them out.

“The Force came out firing,” he added.

“They had a point to prove tonight and you could see that from the start.

“I thought we did well to resist that and the last 20 minutes of the first half we really hit our straps.

“Second half we probably fell away a little bit, I’m not sure what happened there but in saying that we’ll take the win and look forward to finals now.”

Scrum-half Joe Powell said there is plenty of work to do at training this week, but the players are looking forward to it.

“We have to keep building on our performance,” he said.

“We were a bit sloppy in areas tonight so we’ll work on that in training and come in with a big physical game for next week.”

Rory Arnold said it was a difficult match against a determined Western Force.

“It was a tough start,” explained Arnold.

“The Force really showed up in defence and really gave us something to work for, all credit to them they put on a really good performance tonight.”