The Brumbies scored a shock 22 – 14 defeat against the Australian conference leading Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
Both sides scored a try each, but the kicking boot of Brumbies skipper Matt Giteau proved to the difference in the end.
Wallabies ace Giteau has had an indifferent 2011 season thus far, but he put that all behind him as he slotted one conversion and five penalties – the last of which came at full-time and cost the hosts that crucial losing bonus.
The Reds had a try by fullback Ben Lucas and three Quade Cooper penalties to show for their efforts but they were never contenders in a match which also saw them lose backline stars Will Genia and Digby Ioane to injuries in the second half.
The Waratahs beat the Hurricanes 32-16 after leading 18-9 at halftime to secure their semi-final spot in the Super 14. The Crusaders also sent out a warning to fellow semi-finalists by comprehensively beating the Brumbies 40-22 in Christchurch on Friday
The Waratahs scored four tries through fullback Kurtley Beale (2) and wing Drew Mitchell (2). Flyhalf Berrick Barnes landed three conversions and two penalties.
The Hurricanes replied with a try by replacement wing David Smith. Scrumhalf Piri Weepu kicked a conversion and three penalties.
Vodacom Stormers 42 Crusaders 14
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Jaque Fourie (2), Sireli Naqelevuki; Conversions: Peter Grant (3); Penalties: Grant (7).
Crusaders – Tries: Daniel Carter, Colin Slade; Conversions: Carter (2).
Vodacom Bulls 27 The Sharks 19
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Gerhard van den Heever; Conversion: Morne Steyn; Penalties: Steyn (5).
The Sharks – Try: Rory Kockott; Conversion: Kockott; Penalties: Andy Goode (4).
Vodacom Cheetahs 36 Blues 32
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Juan Smith, Jongi Nokwe, Bjorn Basson, Phillip van der Merwe, Waltie Vermeulen; Conversions: Naas Olivier (2), Meyer Bosman (2); Penalty: Olivier.
Blues – Tries: Isaia Toeava, Rene Ranger, Alby Mathewson, Anthony Tuitavake; Conversions: Stephen Brett (3); Penalties: Brett (2).
Chiefs 25 Vodacom Cheetahs 25
Chiefs – Tries: Colin Bourke, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Dwayne Sweeney, Liam Messam.
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Devon Raubenheimer, WP Nel, Meyer Bosman; Conversions: Naas Olivier (2); Penalties: Olivier (2).
Vodacom Bulls 51 Auto & General Lions 11
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Gerhard van den Heever (2), Derick Kuün, Morné Steyn, Wynand Olivier, John Mametsa; Conversions: Morné Steyn (3); Penalties: Steyn (5).
Auto & General Lions – Try: Wandile Mjekevu; Penalties: Herkie Kruger (2).
Chiefs 15 Vodacom Stormers 49
Chiefs – Tries: Tamerau Latimer, Tim Nanai-Williams; Conversion: Stephen Donald; Penalty: Donald.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen, Tiaan Liebenberg, Sireli Naqelevuki, Andries Bekker, Deon Fourie; Conversions: Peter Grant (4), Willem de Waal; Penalties: Grant (3).
Crusaders 45 Vodacom Cheetahs 6
Crusaders – Tries: Thomas Waldrom (2), Kahn Fotuali`i, Ryan Crotty, Sean Maitland, Ben Franks, Zac Guildford; Conversions: Colin Slade (5).
Vodacom Cheetahs – Penalties: Riaan Viljoen, Meyer Bosman.
Auto & General Lions 28 The Sharks 32
Auto & General Lions – Tries: Michael Killian, Franco van der Merwe, Derick Minnie; Conversions: Herkie Kruger (2); Penalties: Kruger (3).
The Sharks – Tries: Patrick Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, Bismarck du Plessis, Jacques Botes; Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3); Penalties: Pienaar (2).
Chiefs – Try: Brendon Leonard; Conversion: Stephen Donald; Penalties: Donald (4).
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Gerhard van den Heever, Pierre Spies, Gary Botha, Dewald Potgieter; Conversions: Morne Steyn (2); Penalties: Steyn (3).
Blues – Tries: Serge Lilo, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko; Conversions: Stephen Brett (3).
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Jaque Fourie, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Anton van Zyl; Conversions: Peter Grant (3); Penalties: Grant (4).
Brumbies – Tries: Ben Alexander (2), Stephen Hoiles, Patrick Phibbs, Tyrone Smith, Rocky Elsom, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Alfi Mafi; Conversions: Matt Giteau (6), Julian Huxley (2).
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Sarel Pretorius, Adriaan Strauss; Conversion: Riaan Viljoen; Penalty: Naas Olivier. Auto & General Lions 26 Reds 41
And indeed they were dominant from start to finish, eventually overwhelming the Cheetahs by nine tries to two.
But they will acknowledge that against quality opposition the unforced errors they made would cost them dearly.
Their skills improved after half-time but they will be disappointed at the ball they coughed up and for much of the game both sides were guilty of sloppy play. In the first half especially, it was a scrappy game with the home team disrupted by the Cheetahs spoiling approach.