ACT local Ryan Lonergan has kicked the Brumbies to a 27-24 victory over the Melbourne Rebels with the final play of the game from 55 metres from goal.
The replacement halfback stepped up to take the pressure kick and with the collective breath of the Brumbies home crowd held, the ball miraculously fell the other side of the crossbar, sending the Brumbies fortress into a frenzy.
The only stain on an otherwise famous victory for the Brumbies was losing their skipper Allan Alaalatoa to a red card and hooker Connal McInerney to injury.
From the opening kickoff, it was clear the Brumbies would have to dig deep against a Rebels team who came out at GIO Stadium with ferocious intent, adding three points off the tee of former Brumby Matt To’omua within a minute.
Noah Lolesio levelled the scores, but the Rebels again forced a penalty off the restart which To’omua turned into another three, the Wallabies playmaker adding another soon after to make it 9-3 to the visitors.
The Brumbies then lost hooker Connal McInerney in the eighth minute, fellow Canberra product Lachlan Lonergan joining the fray for his biggest stint on the park as a professional in his place.
Not long after, Lonergan went close to scoring his second try in two weeks but it would be his Tuggeranong Viking clubmates that would produce the first try
A deft dab from Lolesio was dotted down by Len Ikitau for the opener, a cracking assist from the Brumbies flyhalf who added the extras.
Then came the pivotal point in the match.
The Brumbies looked to push for another try, but an intercept saw the Rebels advance into the Brumbies territory.
Alaalatoa mistimed his tackle on Pone Fa'amausili, and saw red for a high shot, To’omua pushing the Rebels into a narrow half-time lead at the break.
Though they were down to 14 for the next twenty minutes, the Brumbies started the second half full of energy, and bagged their next try soon after the restart, the Rebels denying a certain try forcing referee Damon Murphy to march under the sticks to award the Brumbies a penalty try.
To’omua’s metronomic boot was a constant source of points for the Rebels, the flyhalf finishing with eight penalty goals on the night, the only one to trouble the scorers for the visitors.
The Rebels were in the lead, at 21 -17 when Lonergan would produce his first moment of magic.
A beautiful flick inside, known as a Gregan in the stands of GIO Stadium, sent Tom Banks into a hole, and though the assist got the headlines, the finish was world class.
Still, the Rebels and To’omua stood to task, squaring the game up from the tee.
The Rebels looked the more likely team to win the game and had the Brumbies on their own line looking for a way to get to golden try.
One maul penalty, led to another, and another. Step up Lonergan. 55 metre out, on the angle, the finishing halfback won the game with an inch to spare.
An incredible finish to the game, the Brumbies will look to improve on their performance with the Queensland Reds in town for a Grand-Final rematch at GIO Stadium.
Plus500 Brumbies 27 (T: L Ikitau, Penalty Try, T Banks; C: Lolesio 1, R. Lonergan 1; P: Lolesio 1, R. Lonergan 1) def Melbourne Rebels 24 (P: To'omua 8)
The Plus500 Brumbies will play the Queensland Reds in Round Four of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU at GIO Stadium in Canberra next Saturday night at 7:50pm AEDT. LIVE and AD FREE on the new Home of Rugby, Stan Sport and free to air on 9Gem. Tickets available here.