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Super Rugby Qualifying Final: Brumbies snatch semi berth after thrilling 32-30 victory
Brumbies overcame a remarkable second-half comeback from back-to-back champions Chiefs to book their place in the Super Rugby semi-finals with a 32-30 triumph in Canberra.
Tries from Nic White, Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg and Jarrad Butler gave the hosts a measure of revenge for their defeat in last year's final and earned them a place in next week's semi-finals against the New South Wales Waratahs.
The Chiefs were trailing 22-3 after 29 minutes but stormed back with tries from Bundee Aki, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Tim Nanai-Williams to level the scores at 25-25 with 25 minutes of the contest remaining.
Flanker Butler scored from a rolling maul five minutes later, though, and Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden's failure to convert replacement back Gareth Anscombe's 77th minute try ultimately proved decisive.
A fourth-minute yellow card for Chiefs winger Nanai-Williams had thrust the reigning champions onto the back foot and the Brumbies duly seized their opportunity as scrum-half White slid through the line, with Christian Leali'ifano adding the extras.
Coleman followed five minutes later courtesy a blistering break and fine offload from Mogg on the left flank and the full-back chalked up his own score shortly after as the Brumbies amassed what was increasingly looking like an unassailable lead.
However, a lack of discipline in defence allowed the Chiefs to wrestle their way back into contention as Aki bundled his way over the whitewash after a period of sustained pressure on the Brumbies defence.
That pressure continued to mount following the restart and the Brumbies showed signs of frailty as Henry Speight - who was otherwise the stand-out performer of the match - was sent to the sin bin for a cynical foul.
As the Brumbies had in the first half, the Chiefs made their personnel advantage pay as Kerr-Barlow dotted down off the back of a ruck on the line and Cruden's conversion reduced their deficit to five points.
Following a 10 minutes in the sin bin during the first period, Nanai-Williams found redemption in the right corner as he flew in a third Chiefs try to restore parity and revive hopes of a Super Rugby hat-trick for Dave Rennie's side.
Cruden's kicking radar then wavered however and the Brumbies made sure the All Blacks playmaker paid for his mistake as momentum once again tilted in favour of the hosts in front of a partisan Canberra crowd.
An uncompromising driving maul took the Brumbies over the whitewash as Butler claimed his maiden Super Rugby try and Wallaby Leali'ifano held his nerve to add the extras and give the hosts a seven-point cushion with 19 minutes to play.
When replacement Anscombe recieved approval from the TMO after diving over in the right corner, extra time was on the cards, but Cruden's poor conversion attempt left the Chiefs two shy.
Depsite their best rallying efforts the defending champions could not complete a second comeback as the Brumbies booked their place in the final four.