The Plus500 Brumbies are through to the Super Rugby Semi-Finals, and will travel to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares next week after a seventh-straight victory, beating the Sharks 38-13 at GIO Stadium.
Building an impressive 24-6 lead at half time in part due to a Pete Samu double, the Brumbies withstood second half pressure from the visitors to claim victory in the quarter final clash.
The Brumbies raced away to the perfect start when a great inside ball found Samu and the rangy number 8 used his fresh legs to outpace Rob du Preez to score under the posts.
Following the try, the visitors did a good job of holding onto possession and they were rewarded for their control with a penalty on the halfway line.
Curwin Bosch stepped up to the challenge and his attempt carried just far enough to put his team on the board.
The Brumbies again showed how dangerous they are with ball in hand when fullback Tom Banks broke through the defence and set up Henry Speight to dive over in the corner.
Some handy kicking from Christian Lealiifano meant that the Brumbies had entered the Sharks’ 22 just twice in the opening 10 minutes of the match, managing to come away with the optimal 14 points.
Another Bosch penalty kept the Sharks within striking distance, but that penalty was hastily cancelled out by a three-pointer by Lealiifano.
Given a lineout 10 metres out from the Sharks line, the Brumbies packed down into their signature maul. Even some of the backs joined the contest and Samu was the eventual beneficiary of the unstoppable pack, scoring his second try of the game.
There was a heart-stopping moment ten minutes from half time when Brumbies captain Lealiifano was hunched down clutching at his shoulder, but the brave flyhalf remained on the field.
Starting off the second half with a comfortable 24-6 lead, the men from Canberra looked the more composed of the two side, the visitors having to force things at times to try and spark a comeback.
It was the Sharks who eventually scored the first points of the second period when Andre Esterhuizen smashed his way over from close range in the 58th minute.
Bosch was again successful with his kick, bringing his team within 11 points, and this seemed to visibly lift the Durban team. The Brumbies did an outstanding job absorbing this pressure over a sustained period, and eventually were able to work the ball back into Sharks territory.
With only 10 minutes left in the match the Canberra crowd was starting to get anxious with their lead, but a fantastic try to Joe Powell put the result to bed.
However, the Brumbies were not done yet. Tom Banks broke through the defence and set up replacement halfback Matt Lucas for a try next to the posts as time ran up.
Next week the Brumbies travel to Argentina to face the Jaguares in one semi-final, while the Crusaders host the Hurricanes in the other.
Brumbies: (24) 38 (T: Samu (2), Speight, Powell, Lucas C: Lealiifano (5) P: Lealiifano)
Sharks: (6) 13 (T: Esterhuizen C: Bosch P: Bosch (2))
1. Scott SIO (51’ 17. James SLIPPER), 2. Folau FAINGA’A (72’ 16. Connal McINERNY), 3. Allan ALAALATOA (73’ 18. Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN), 4. Rory ARNOLD (72’ 19. Darcy SWAIN), 5. Sam CARTER, 6. Rob VALETINI (64’ 21. Jahrome BROWN), 7. Tom CUSACK, 8. Pete SAMU (40’ 20. Lachlan McCAFFREY), 9. Joe POWELL (73’ 22. Matt LUCAS), 10. Christian LEALIIFANO, 11. Toni PULU, 12. Irae SIMONE, 13. Tevita KURIDRANI, 14. Henry SPEIGHT (73’ 23. Tom WRIGHT), 15. Tom BANKS