The Chiefs will go into their Super Rugby bye next week on the back of three successive victories and more importantly the confidence they can win close games from anywhere on the field.
With another scoreboard clock debacle threatening to confuse the players in the dying stages, the try-scoring drought in this match at Baypark Stadium was shattered by three seven-pointers in the last 10 minutes before a last-minute try in the corner by centre Jackson Willison gave the home side a 29-22 victory over the Brumbies.
Aaron Cruden, who never missed a kick all night in a seven out of seven performance, calmly slotted the touchline conversion for extra insurance and the Brumbies never managed to get out of their own half before time ran out.
But time was an issue in the dying stages. When replacement lock Sam Carter was awarded a dubious try in a melee in the right corner for the Brumbies and No10 Christian Lealiifano also knocked over the wide-angled conversion to level the scores at 22-22, the ground clock was showing 79 minutes had expired. But officials let referee Ian Smith know that the clock was actually running seven minutes fast and the two captains had to quickly rethink their tactics.
In the end that was in the Chiefs' favour.
The first half was a 9-9 stalemate, with both teams having their turn on attack but unable to completely break down the defence, but the Brumbies were better able to string together multiple phases down in the attacking quarter, forcing a lot of tackles from the home side.
However, if anything the Chiefs seemed a little flat compared to their highly motivated efforts against the Crusaders a week earlier in Napier and handling errors cost them dearly.
The Chiefs did look dangerous with ball in hand when they attacked through midfield, using the straight running power of second-five Sonny Bill Williams and some quick recycling of ball but a combination of solid Brumbies defence and their own lack of ball security in the tackle meant they were restricted to three Cruden penalty goals from as many attempts.
The Brumbies had one extra kick at goal thanks to the pressure they built through the efficient recycling of ball and a quick ruck and run game reminiscent of Brumbies of old.
But pivot Christian Lealiifano, who two years ago had an ITM Cup season for Waikato, hit an upright with one of those attempts from 30 metres out and while the Chiefs knocked the ball on they escaped that particular period without conceding points. Otherwise the first 40 minutes were the stalemate the score indicated with both lineouts efficient and both scrums holding firm, although Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow was ale to spoil his opposite Ian Prior's ball at the scrum base a couple of times and late in the half there were signs the home pack were starting to screw the opposition looseheads.
The Brumbies got the first chance to score of the second half and Lealiifano made no mistake with his fifth minute penalty goal, but slowly the Chiefs started to exert more influence in the game, Williams making the first clean line break of the game, the Chiefs forwards looking more urgent and Cruden making it five from five with two more penalties to put the home side back in front 15-12.
But the see-saw nature of the game continued with Lealiifano levelling the scores 15-15 and it was not until the Chiefs gamble 13 minutes from the end and didn't goal for goal when they had the chance in the left corner that the match was broken wide open.
The Chiefs did not score immediately from the lineout and eight further phases but got a prime attacking position from a 5m scrum when held up over the line between the posts and it was that man Taumalolo again who was driven over from a pick-and-go attacking move - again between the posts.
Cruden's conversion made it 22-15 and suddenly the home side had some breathing space.
But penalties proved costly to the Chiefs, the Brumbies were quickly back on attack and they picked up their own pick-and-go forward drive try in the right corner from replacement lock Sam Carter after a multitude of replays failed to be conclusive.
Referee Ian Smith had asked for any reason not to award the try and so was obliged then to give it and under enormous pressure Lealiifano kicked the conversion from wide out.
But in a show of determination and confidence that is becoming a hallmark of this Chiefs team they swept back downfield through a Tim Nanai-Williams break, the forwards swept in to win quick attacking ball, it was moved left through a slick set of hands and Willison dived for the corner for the winner that Cruden converted.
Chiefs 29 (Sona Taumalolo, Jackson Willison tries; Aaron Cruden 2 conversions, 5 penalty goals)
Brumbies 22 (Sam Carter try; Christian Lealiifano conversion, 5 penalty goals).
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