The result nevertheless puts an end to either franchise's remote chances of reaching the semifinals - an irony made all the more richer by the expansive, running rugby on display at Canberra Stadium.
Rugby that saw both sides secure the bonus-point they would have required (alongside a win) to keep their Super 12 lifelines intact by scoring four tries apiece.
Having lost some of the greatest Australian names in the modern game to injury, the ACT men needed to begin well to make full use of the home advantage. And George Gregan�s replacement gave them the start they wanted: Matt Henjak pumping a double-dummy and breaking through the inside channel - not to mention Chiefs captain Jono Gibbes - to score in just the third minute
7-0 Brumbies. The horses' tails were up early. Despite plenty of territorial gains by the visitors, it was the Brumbies who scored next. Hooker Jeremy Paul literally the driving force, before no 12 Matt Giteau joined the action to run his captain and centre Stirling Mortlock in under the bar. Mortlock�s own conversion took them out 14-0.
Chiefs loosies Wayne Ormond and Steven Bates had clearly had enough. Both men took matters - and the ball - in hand, heading up-field with their heads down. As the phases mounted, second-five David Hill survived a king-hit from Brumbies No 8 Jone Tawake for the ball to come quick and right. Centre Niva Ta�auso the man to finish the attack with two men outside him.
Half an hour of the match gone and the Chiefs were finally on the board. Yet, just as they did in the night's earlier showdown between the Crusaders and the Highlanders, the points come at a great cost: the loss of highly-flammable halfback Byron Kelleher to hamstring problems.
14-7 Brumbies, and more points arrive as hooker Paul takes a quick tap and blindside flanker Owen Finegan carries three Chiefs over the tryline in his final appearance in front of the ACT faithful. Add Mortlock�s third conversion.
The Chiefs turned up the heat in the dying moments of the first spell, but could neither crash over or find joy out wide.
Halftime score: 21-7 Brumbies
Second 40. Passes finally stick and the Chiefs struck first after the break. Hill and Ormand providing the slick combination that put prop Ben Castle over short-side in the 45th minute. 21-14, and the Chiefs outside backs Ta�auso, Sosene Anesi and Sitiveni Sivivatu found new confidence � no doubt assisted by Hill�s sound inclination to chip the ball in behind the opposition.
Suddenly, the New Zealanders are all over the local livestock like, well, flies on a horse. Yet somehow, Hill missed the sitter in the 53rd minute that would have closed the gap further. Instead, alarm bells ring on defence as Mortlock snatched his second... travelling the softest of straight lines to once again dot-down under the bar from 30m out.
Anything you can do I can do better. Super-sub Sione Lauaki did exactly what he�s designed to do and took out three defenders as the ball bounced free and Ta�auso collected for his own double in the 65th minute.
Speedster Sitiveni helped himself to the Chiefs fourth try with 10 minutes to play.
Again, Hill�s sideline conversion was spectacular and again the Chiefs rally. 28-all and only a high shot stopped fullback Adrian Cashmore scoring the visitors' fifth try. Camped down on the Brumbies 5m line, they earn three penalties. But with four minutes on the clock, Hill sliced his second sitter of the night.
It was a frenzied final three minutes from both sides and the Brumbies have the upper hand, but the Chiefs defence holds.
Final score: 28-all
Chiefs. Tries: Ben Castle, Sivivatu Sitiveni, Niva Ta�auso (2). Conversions: Hill (4).
Brumbies. Tries: Matt Henjak, Owen Finegan, Stirling Mortlock (2). Conversions: Mortlock (4)
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