Super Rugby Aotearoa: Highlanders coach Tony Brown praises his side for a complete team performance after victory over Blues

Highlanders coach Tony Brown has praised his side for a "complete team performance" after their important 35-29 victory over the Blues on Friday. 

After a heartbreaking golden-point defeat to the Chiefs last week, the 'Landers came into the contest knowing nothing but a win would suffice as they search for a spot in the Super Rugby Aotearoa final.

Shannon Frizzell had a massive night with 11 tackles and 12 runs while the rest of the forward pack starred as they scrambled in defence and disrupted the Blues' ball. 

"We had to be really good defensively and I thought our breakdown was probably the best it's been all year," Brown says. "Our turnover percentage was 17 per cent again. We did that against the Crusaders and it was the lowest I've ever seen as a coach and we've done it again, and if you're doing that you're winning games of rugby.

"Yeah it was [set piece], Bryn Evans is a classy operator and keeps everyone calm under extreme pressure and he just executes really well at set-piece time and around the field."

For the second week running, the Highlanders scored with a move straight from the training ground and Brown has praised his assistant coaches for all their hard work. 

"Clarke Dermody and Riki Flutey are doing an amazing job there around creating attacking moves that we can score from on the first phase, and if you're scoring from the first phase from lineouts the game becomes a lot easier."

Highlanders co-captain Aaron Smith had to step up this week after the loss of fellow halfback Folau Fakatava to a season-ending injury, and he did just that. He gave his backs brilliant service, he won a mountain of turnovers and he was back to his inspirational best. 

Brown still feels his side needs to improve on their belief, and if they can achieve that, the sky's the limit. 

"Around our team, it's about belief," Brown says. "We've got a lot of young guys and only have two All Blacks. If we actually believe we are as good as everyone else we can beat everyone. I've said it from the start and we just need our guys really believing that they're as good as everyone else in this competition." 

The Highlanders have a bye next week before facing the Hurricanes in the pivotal final round in deciding the top two spots on the Super Rugby Aotearoa table. 

Join Newshub for live updates of the Chiefs v Crusaders from 7:05pm Saturday.