Brumbies eye final against Tahs or Reds
The Brumbies are on a likely collision course with the NSW Waratahs or Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby Pacific finals, with their opponents to be determined in the final round.
The Canberra side sit third on the competition table heading into their last match before the top-eight final series after a heart-breaking loss to the ladder-leading Blues.
They looked headed for a famous victory at home on Saturday night until Beauden Barrett slotted a field goal after the fulltime siren for a 21-19 win.
The Crusaders are in second, five points clear of the Brumbies, while the Chiefs round out the top four, a further three points back so could still do some last-round damage.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was seething at the 16-5 penalty count in the Blues' favour which hamstrung his team's hopes of a win.
"A 16-5 penalty count at home - it was tough to take but what do you say ... I don't want to get myself into trouble," McKellar said.
"I'm shattered as I thought our effort and attitude deserved better
"We were 20 seconds away from a pretty special win."
Beaten 37-26 by the Crusaders the previous round, McKellar drew confidence from his team's performances against the two NZ powerhouses heading into the play-offs.
"The last two weeks, while we've lost both, we know we've got the game to beat both the Crusaders and the Blues and it looks like they will finish top two so we take something from it," he said.
The Waratahs secured a 32-20 victory over the Highlanders on Sunday - their first in Dunedin in 14 years - which meant they climbed over the Reds (35 points) into sixth, two points ahead on the ladder.
The Hurricanes are in fifth (38 points), one point ahead of the Waratahs (37 points), with fourth and fifth to clash in week one of the finals.
As it stands the Waratahs would face the Brumbies in Canberra in the quarter-finals and the Reds would face the Crusaders.
That could change if the Reds upset the Crusaders in Christchurch when they meet in the last round while the Waratahs also have a tough assignment, hosting the Blues.
The Reds could be without veteran James O'Connor who suffered a hamstring injury late in their 34-22 win over Moana Pasifika on Friday night.
The Brumbies have a final-round meeting with lowly-placed Moana Pasifika in Auckland, with the newcomers having to back up from a postponed match against the Western Force this Tuesday night.
The Chiefs must travel to Churchill Park in Lautoka to take on Fijian Drua.
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