Brumbies end Chiefs' season in a thriller

Pauliasi Manu illustrates the Chiefs' disappointment at the final whistle.
Pauliasi Manu illustrates the Chiefs' disappointment at the final whistle.
Augustine Pulu looks to break a Brumbies tackle.
Augustine Pulu looks to break a Brumbies tackle.
Brumbies second-five Pat McCabe is lifted off his feet in a Chiefs tackle.
Brumbies second-five Pat McCabe is lifted off his feet in a Chiefs tackle.
Bundee Aki runs into the Brumbies defence at GIO Stadium.
Bundee Aki runs into the Brumbies defence at GIO Stadium.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna on the charge.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna on the charge.
Liam Messam brings down Brumbies No 10 Christian Lealiifano.
Liam Messam brings down Brumbies No 10 Christian Lealiifano.
Chiefs first five Aaron Cruden barks orders at his team during their Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park.
Chiefs first five Aaron Cruden barks orders at his team during their Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park.
Chiefs players Aaron Cruden and Tim Nanai-Williams share their joy at making it to the Super Rugby playoffs after beating the Blues at Eden Park.
Chiefs players Aaron Cruden and Tim Nanai-Williams share their joy at making it to the Super Rugby playoffs after beating the Blues at Eden Park.
Good sportsmanship was on show after the Chiefs beat the Blues at Eden Park with Bundee Aki sharing a moment with Ma'a Nonu.
Good sportsmanship was on show after the Chiefs beat the Blues at Eden Park with Bundee Aki sharing a moment with Ma'a Nonu.
Halfback Tawera Kerr Barlow topples over in the Chiefs' round 19 Super Rugby game against the Blues.
Halfback Tawera Kerr Barlow topples over in the Chiefs' round 19 Super Rugby game against the Blues.
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick reaches for the ball.
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick reaches for the ball.
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs steps out of the tackles of Ardie Savea (left) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes during his side's round 18 Super Rugby win in Hamilton.
Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs steps out of the tackles of Ardie Savea (left) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes during his side's round 18 Super Rugby win in Hamilton.
Hadleigh Parkes from the Hurricanes celebrates a try during his side's Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Hadleigh Parkes from the Hurricanes celebrates a try during his side's Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma from the Chiefs during his side's 24-16 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma from the Chiefs during his side's 24-16 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes charges into Liam Messam of the Chiefs with the assistance of Ben Franks (left) during the round 18 clash between the two sides at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes charges into Liam Messam of the Chiefs with the assistance of Ben Franks (left) during the round 18 clash between the two sides at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden during the round 18 fixture at Waikato Stadium.
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes is tackled by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden during the round 18 fixture at Waikato Stadium.
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams scores a try for the Chiefs during their round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams scores a try for the Chiefs during their round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Kurtley Beale and Wycliff Palu take down Chiefs fullback Tom Marshall at Taranaki Stadium.
Kurtley Beale and Wycliff Palu take down Chiefs fullback Tom Marshall at Taranaki Stadium.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow flicks a pass out during the Chiefs' clash with the Waratahs.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow flicks a pass out during the Chiefs' clash with the Waratahs.
Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden attempts to sidestep a tackle during his side's clash with the Waratahs.
Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden attempts to sidestep a tackle during his side's clash with the Waratahs.
The Chiefs put the pressure on the Waratahs' Jacques Potgieter in New Plymouth.
The Chiefs put the pressure on the Waratahs' Jacques Potgieter in New Plymouth.
Brodie Retallick runs it against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Brodie Retallick runs it against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Tim Nanai-Williams is tackled by Dane Coles.
Tim Nanai-Williams is tackled by Dane Coles.
Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith makes a pass during his side's clash with the Chiefs.
Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith makes a pass during his side's clash with the Chiefs.
Fireworks go off at Yarrow Stadium ahead of the Chiefs' home clash with the Blues in New Plymouth.
Fireworks go off at Yarrow Stadium ahead of the Chiefs' home clash with the Blues in New Plymouth.
Tom Marshall, centre, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try for the Chiefs against the Blues in New Plymouth.
Tom Marshall, centre, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try for the Chiefs against the Blues in New Plymouth.
Chiefs fans delighted to get the chance to cheer their team on in New Plymouth.
Chiefs fans delighted to get the chance to cheer their team on in New Plymouth.
Liam Messam, right, asks referee Mike Fraser to go to the TMO during the Chiefs' clash with the Blues.
Liam Messam, right, asks referee Mike Fraser to go to the TMO during the Chiefs' clash with the Blues.
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs scores a try in the tackle of Franco Mostert of the Lions.
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs scores a try in the tackle of Franco Mostert of the Lions.
Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs scores a try against the Lions in Hamilton.
Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs scores a try against the Lions in Hamilton.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge at the Lions defence during their Super Rugby clash.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge at the Lions defence during their Super Rugby clash.
Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh puts the head down to make some hard yards for his team against the Lions.
Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh puts the head down to make some hard yards for his team against the Lions.
Christian Lealiifano of the Brumbies is tackled during their match against the Chiefs.
Christian Lealiifano of the Brumbies is tackled during their match against the Chiefs.
Tevita Koloamatangi of the Chiefs is tackled during their match against the Brumbies.
Tevita Koloamatangi of the Chiefs is tackled during their match against the Brumbies.
Liam Messam of the Chiefs runs the ball during their match against the Brumbies.
Liam Messam of the Chiefs runs the ball during their match against the Brumbies.
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs looks for support in the tackle of Kieran Reid of the Crusaders.
Gareth Anscombe of the Chiefs looks for support in the tackle of Kieran Reid of the Crusaders.
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs loses possession in the slippery conditions during the Chiefs and Crusaders match.
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs loses possession in the slippery conditions during the Chiefs and Crusaders match.
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs takes a high ball under pressure from Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders.
Tom Marshall of the Chiefs takes a high ball under pressure from Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge against the Rebels at Waikato Stadium.
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna makes a charge against the Rebels at Waikato Stadium.
Sam Cane in action against the Melbourne Rebels.
Sam Cane in action against the Melbourne Rebels.
Tom Marshall on the charge for the Chiefs against the Rebels in Hamilton.
Tom Marshall on the charge for the Chiefs against the Rebels in Hamilton.
Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu looks to offload after being grounded by the Melbourne Rebels' defence.
Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu looks to offload after being grounded by the Melbourne Rebels' defence.
Gareth Anscombe chases down a loose ball against the Cheetahs in South Africa.
Gareth Anscombe chases down a loose ball against the Cheetahs in South Africa.
Michael Fitzgerald makes a charge for the Chiefs against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Michael Fitzgerald makes a charge for the Chiefs against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick lines up Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss for a hard tackle.
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick lines up Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss for a hard tackle.
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow tries to make a break against the Bulls in South Africa.
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow tries to make a break against the Bulls in South Africa.
Prop Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs tries in vain to keep the ball under control against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Prop Ben Tameifuna of the Chiefs tries in vain to keep the ball under control against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Jacques Du Plessis of the Bulls crashes trough the Chiefs' defensive line.
Jacques Du Plessis of the Bulls crashes trough the Chiefs' defensive line.
Caille Visagie and Dean Greyling of the Bulls tackle Tom Marshall of the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld.
Caille Visagie and Dean Greyling of the Bulls tackle Tom Marshall of the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld.
Gareth Anscombe cuts through the Stormers' defence late in the game.
Gareth Anscombe cuts through the Stormers' defence late in the game.
Aaron Cruden brings down Stormers second-five Jean de Villiers.
Aaron Cruden brings down Stormers second-five Jean de Villiers.
Chiefs wing James Lowe confronts the Stormers defence.
Chiefs wing James Lowe confronts the Stormers defence.
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow sprints away from a scrum.
Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow sprints away from a scrum.
Tom Marshall toes the ball on in the Chiefs' impressive win over the Stormers.
Tom Marshall toes the ball on in the Chiefs' impressive win over the Stormers.
Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams glides through a gap in the Highlanders defensive line.
Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams glides through a gap in the Highlanders defensive line.
Chiefs lock Michael Fitzgerald charges forward at the Highlanders.
Chiefs lock Michael Fitzgerald charges forward at the Highlanders.
Chiefs fans enjoyed a two-point victory against the Highlanders.
Chiefs fans enjoyed a two-point victory against the Highlanders.
Liam Messam runs into the tackle of Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman.
Liam Messam runs into the tackle of Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman.
Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow runs onto Waikato Stadium to face the Highlanders.
Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow runs onto Waikato Stadium to face the Highlanders.
Chiefs centre Robbie Fruean has a barnstroming game against his former Crusaders team.
Chiefs centre Robbie Fruean has a barnstroming game against his former Crusaders team.
Chiefs players Augustine Pulu and Tim Nanai-Williams jump high for a high-ball against the Crusaders.
Chiefs players Augustine Pulu and Tim Nanai-Williams jump high for a high-ball against the Crusaders.
Aaron Cruden barks out a play call during the Chiefs Super Rugby opener against the Crusaders.
Aaron Cruden barks out a play call during the Chiefs Super Rugby opener against the Crusaders.
Chiefs players Charlie Ngatai and Mils Muliaina attempt to bring down Israel Dagg.
Chiefs players Charlie Ngatai and Mils Muliaina attempt to bring down Israel Dagg.

The ACT Brumbies moved a step closer to a third Super Rugby crown by dashing the Chiefs' attempt to secure a record-equalling three-peat with a dramatic 32-30 victory in their elimination final in Canberra tonight.

Buoyed by the potential of avenging their loss in last year's final in Hamilton, the Brumbies extended a proud record against the Chiefs in the Australian capital by backing up their 41-23 win on Anzac Day with a far more significant victory after surviving a bold comeback from the defending champions.

Australia's most successful franchise now faces the challenge of either ending the NSW Waratahs' dreams of celebrating a maiden championship on August 2 - or prolonging the Crusaders title drought to six years by ending their campaign in Saturday's other semifinal.

The Chiefs, seeking their first win at GIO Stadium since 2008, and just third win in nine away games this campaign, came up short, meaning a host of departing players, including veteran flanker Tanerau Latimer plus backs Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Bundee Aki, leave the franchise on a disappointing note.

By exiting the title race, the Crusaders (1998-2000) remain the only franchise to win three consecutive finals - that achievement was never in danger of being matched early as a vibrant Brumbies constructed an ultimately decisive 19-point lead inside 25 minutes of ruthless efficiency.

The Chiefs were thoroughly outplayed for the bulk of the opening half but displayed the resilience associated with their reign by almost forcing the contest into extra time.

Unfortunately Aaron Cruden was unable to slot a sideline conversion after Gareth Anscombe dived across in the corner to set up a finale that hardly seemed possible following the Brumbies initial dominance.

The Chiefs are the most heavily penalised team in the competition and despite coach Dave Rennie appealing pre-match for Craig Joubert not to treat his players by reputation they were a man down inside five minutes after Tim Nanai-Williams was yellow carded for cynical play at a ruck as the Brumbies looked poised to score.

The centre's indiscretion only delayed the inevitable after a secure close range lineout and maul opened up a blind for Nic White to exploit with ease and then the Wallabies halfback initiated the Brumbies second try when he instigated a long range effort from Robbie Coleman after fielding a Dwayne Sweeney chip in his own half.

Christian Leali'ifano, who was kicking at only 49 per cent, slotted both conversions to underscore the Brumbies dominant start.

The Brumbies had 75 per cent possession before Nanai-Williams returned and surprised the Chiefs with an expansive game plan based around the explosive running Henry Speight, an automatic choice for the Wallabies once the Fijian meets residency requirements in September.

Once restored to their full complement there was no respite for the Chiefs who were breached again after repelling 16 phases when Jesse Mogg crossed in the left hand corner.

Starved of possession and trapped in their own half as the Brumbies surged to a 22-3 lead, the Chiefs at least trimmed the deficit when Bundee Aki was unstoppable from close range after the home side were stressed for the first time in the 35th minute.

The Chiefs, who missed 28 tackles in the first half, also survived an onslaught either side of the halftime hooter after the Brumbies turned down a kickable penalty in search of another demoralising seven pointer.

A penalty soon after halftime was an encouraging start but Cruden's real influence was in general play as he set aside first half frustrations with a commanding third quarter as the Chiefs capitalised on the sin binning of Speight for a Nanai-Williams-style infringement in the 58th minute.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow emulated counterpart White by crossing from the resulting penalty and then Nanai-Williams levelled the scores at 25-25 while Speight spectated when he atoned for his down time with a scything run to the corner.

Cruden missed the extras and although Leali'ifano was wide with a handy penalty the Brumbies regained the lead in the 61st minute when Wellington-born flanker Jarrad Butler touched down amid a stunning rolling maul.

Butler's first Super Rugby try had an element of luck as the Brumbies opted against a three pointer because Leali'ifano was being treated for cramp.

He recovered to nail the conversion but the Chiefs refused to yield and had a chance to push a gripping contest into extra time when reserve back Gareth Anscombe squeezed over in the corner.

Cruden needed to convert his toughest kick of the night to square the ledger with 3min 30 remaining but it drifted wide before the Brumbies found field position for the last, crucial, time.

ACT Brumbies 32 (Jarrad Butler, Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg, Nic White tries Christian Leali'ifano 3 cons 2 pens) Chiefs 30 (Bundee Aki, Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tim Nanai-Williams tries Aaron Cruden 2 cons 2 pens) at GIO Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 14,284

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