Brumbies snatch semifinal berth after Savea denied winning try

rugby10 June 2023 12:48| © Reuters
Brumbies players celebrate © Getty Images

The Brumbies prevented a New Zealand shut-out in the semifinals of Super Rugby Pacific by defending to the death in a 37-33 cliff-hanger against the Hurricanes in Canberra on Saturday.

Camped on their try-line, the Brumbies held off wave after wave of attacks for five minutes after the siren before Hurricanes skipper Ardie Savea made a last dive under the posts, only to be denied by the hand of loose forward Luke Reimer.

With the home crowd holding their breath, the television match official upheld Nic Berry's on-field decision that Savea had failed to ground the ball, leaving the Brumbies celebrating and Savea crushed.

The Hurricanes skipper was adamant he had scored.

"As much as I disagree, that's just the way it goes," said the emotional flanker. "I scored it, brother. Initially, I scored it, anyway. I'm gutted."

The Brumbies' reward will be a tough trip to Hamilton to meet the table-topping Chiefs, who earlier battled to a 29-20 win over a spirited Reds team.

No Australian team has ever won a Super Rugby playoff in New Zealand. The twice-champion Brumbies will need to win two to claim their first title since 2004.

In Saturday's second quarterfinal, an injury-depleted Crusaders thumped Fijian Drua 49-8 in Christchurch to set up a rematch of last year's title-decider against the Blues.

As dominant as the win was, Scott Robertson's champion Crusaders were left counting a heavy cost.

Already decimated by injuries through the regular season, the Crusaders were down to 13 men in the last 10 minutes when flyhalf Richie Mo'unga limped off, joining lock Zach Gallagher and flanker Ethan Blackadder off-field.

By that stage, the Crusaders were cruising with a 42-8 lead but they managed to conjure up a seventh try in the final minutes to Willi Heinz.

"Very pleased with how the boys played tonight," said Crusaders captain Scott Barrett. "To finish with 13 men... we covered well."


The Crusaders extended their winning streak in Christchurch playoffs to 28 and can stretch it further against the Blues next week as they hunt a seventh championship trophy in seven years under departing coach Scott Robertson.

In Hamilton, the Chiefs needed a late try from Fiji-born No 8 Pita Gus Sowakula to sink the Reds,who had led at the 70th minute and threatened to pull off a huge upset.

Damian McKenzie knocked over five penalties and two conversions in a flawless night off the tee.

"We came up against a really tough Reds side. To be fair, that's what we expected," said Chiefs skipper Sam Cane.

"It was an arm-wrestle, we had to grind it out."

Brad Thorn confirmed he had overseen his last match as Reds coach after six years in the role.

"It's been an honour," said the dual code international.

"It's now time for a bit of a break. It's a fair amount of time, six years, isn't it?"

The Chiefs had only one other try-scorer, with winger Emoni Narawa crossing at the left corner after the halftime siren.

The only team to beat the Chiefs in the regular season, the Reds were gallant in defeat.

Reds winger Suliasi Vunivalu put his hand up for Wallabies selection with a terrific match, scoring the opening try in the ninth minute and grabbing another on the hour mark.