Brumbis will fly the Australian flag in the Super Rugby Pacific semifinals after a thrilling 35-25 win over the Hurricanes in Canberra on Saturday night.
After losing to the Reds and Waratahra in the quarter-finals, the Brumbeys seemed ready to follow the departure of Lane Ikitau, and the Kiwis made a worrying early lead.
But the Brumbies lifted into adversity and produced a stirring second-half performance to book a date with the all-time winning blues at Eden Park next weekend.
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“The boys weren’t crazy at all tonight,” said Brumbis captain Alan Alalatoa.
“It was a lot quieter when we were 10 points down.”
It was the final home game for outgoing Brumbis coach Dan McKeller and Scott CO, Tom Banks, Folau Fainga and Ira Simon.
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Slice the bank through for the brumbies
“Those guys and Dan gave a lot for the club,” Alalatoa said.
“We want to make good memories and it is getting the job done next week.”
The Brumbies will be a huge underdog against a Blues side who destroyed the Highlanders early Saturday.
Ikitau said goodbye with a high shot
But the CO said his side would not be disappointed by the challenge.
“Huge effort, you have to go 80 minutes to get deeper into this final series and we did,” the CO said.
“You have to lose everyone to win the company, so why not Eden Park?”
Ikitou’s red card was a major topic of discussion in the first half when Kiwi referee Paul Williams decided that Hurricanes’ fifth-eighth Aidan Morgan’s shot was worse than the Yellows.
All Blacks Great Andrew Mehertens at Stan Sport said: “I’m sorry for Lane Ikitau because he’s so far away from being a dirty player but he made a mistake on that occasion.”
But Argentina coach Michael Cheica thinks a yellow card could be a sufficient punishment.
Hurricanes prop Wayne Franks was given a yellow card in the first half, triggering an outcry from GIO Stadium trustees who felt he should have had the same fate as Ikitou.
Appropriately, Fayinga, Simon and Banks all tried to cross Tom Wright in their final home game.
Transformed Flanker Tom Hooper was great for Brumbis when Hurricanes fullback Josh Murby continued his breakout campaign.
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“He was tireless tonight, he worked very hard,” Cheika said of Hooper.
“I haven’t seen him much but he’s a real competitor I love.”
The Blues-Brumbs are semi-locked for next Saturday with the Crusaders-Chiefs clash on Friday.
“The work is not done,” Wright said.
“One down, two to go … It’s a great opportunity in their cauldron against the Blues.”
McKeller, who is leaving Brumbis and joining Wallabis fulltime, had a playful face even after the emotional win.
“Elasticity is one of our pillars and we saw it tonight,” McKeller said.
“We got a real impression from our finishers. The music came to the fore as a result of the 14-3 red card.”
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