The Brumbies will stride into the Super Rugby finals on the back of their best winning streak in 12 years after dominating the Queensland Reds 40-27 in foggy, freezing Canberra.
The Brumbies’ deadly rolling maul again caused the damage as Australia’s 2019 conference winners recovered from an early deficit to ride roughshod over the the Reds on Saturday night.
Dan McKellar’s men piled on six tries to three to run out emphatic winners at GIO Stadium.
In registering six straight victories for only the second time, the Brumbies secured a crucial home quarter-final next Saturday night in the nation’s capital.
Their opponents won’t be determined until two South African derbies are played out on Sunday morning.
But whether they face the Bulls, Sharks, Lions, Stormers or the fast-finishing Chiefs or Highlanders from New Zealand, skipper Christian Lealiifano said the Brumbies would enter the play-offs brimming with belief.
“We’re pleased with the way we’re performing at the moment and the growth in the team has been nice,” Lealiifano said.
“So we’ve just got to continue to keep working hard and hopefully we’ve got another few more weeks to go.
“Hopefully it doesn’t matter who we get.”
The Reds led early through Bryce Hegarty’s converted try in the seventh minute, but paid the price for spending a quarter of the game playing a man down after hooker Taniela Tupou and veteran back-rower Scott Higginbotham were both issued yellow cards late in the opening half.
Tupou’s sin-binning proved a particular turning point.
Reds halfback Matt McGahan thought he’d extended the visitors’ lead to at least 12-0, with a conversion to come, but his runaway intercept effort was overturned.
The television match official, in consultation with referee Paul Williams, deemed Tupou had caught Lealiifano high and “too forceful” in the lead-up.
Instead of enjoying a commanding lead, the Reds quickly found themselves trailing 19-10 at the break after Lachlan McCaffrey cashed in on the Brumbies’ first rolling maul before Higginbotham was marched for deliberately trying to pull down another in the shadow of halftime.
While the Brumbies celebrated Wallabies prop Scott Sio’s 100th Super Rugby game with further tries to Sam Carter and Tom Wright to blow the hosts’ lead out to a match-winning 33-10, Japan-bound Reds captain Samu Kerevi bowed out in losing fashion.
“I’ve had an awesome time in the Queensland jumper,” Kerevi said.
“I’ve been blessed with all the opportunities I’ve got and really honoured to captain this team.”