Brave Brumbies fly the flag for Aussie rugby

The Brumbies will fly the flag for Australia in the Super Rugby Pacific semi finals after a thrilling 35-25 comeback win over the Hurricanes in Canberra on Saturday night.

After the Reds and Waratahs bowed out in the quarter finals, the Brumbies looked set to follow suit when Len Ikitau was sent off and the Kiwis built an alarming early lead.

But the Brumbies lifted amid the adversity and produced a stirring second half performance to book a date with the all-conquering Blues at Eden Park next weekend.

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“The boys weren’t frantic at all tonight,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said.

“There was a lot of composure, even when we were 10 points down.”

It was the final home game for departing Brumbies coach Dan McKellar and stalwarts Scott Sio, Tom Banks, Folau Fainga’a and Irae Simone.

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Banks slices through for Brumbies

“Those boys and Dan have given so much for the club,” Alaalatoa said.

“We want to create good memories and that’s getting the job done next week.”

The Brumbies will be massive underdogs against a Blues side that destroyed the Highlanders earlier on Saturday.

Ikitau feels off for high shot

But Sio said his side would not be daunted by the challenge.

“Huge effort, to go deep in this finals series you’ve got to go 80 minutes and we did,” Sio said.

“You’ve got to beat everyone to win the comp don’t you so why not Eden Park?”

Ikitau’s red card was a major talking point in the first half when Kiwi referee Paul Williams decided his shot on Hurricanes five-eighth Aidan Morgan was worse than a yellow.

“I feel sorry for Len Ikitau because he’s far from a dirty player but he’s got it wrong on that occasion,” All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens said on Stan Sport.

But Argentina coach Michael Cheika felt a yellow card would have been sufficient punishment.

Hurricanes prop Owen Franks was handed a yellow card in the first half, triggering howls from the GIO Stadium faithful who felt he should have met the same fate as Ikitau.

Fittingly, Fainga’a, Simone and Banks all scored tries in their final home game with Tom Wright also crossing.

Converted flanker Tom Hooper was excellent for the Brumbies while Hurricanes fullback Josh Moorby continued his breakout campaign.

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“He was tireless tonight, he did a lot of tight work,” Cheika said of Hooper.

“I haven’t watched a lot of him but he is a real competitor which I love.”

The Blues-Brumbies semi is locked in for next Saturday with the Crusaders-Chiefs clash on Friday.

“The job’s not done,” Wright said.

“One down, two to go…against the Blues in their cauldron it’s an awesome opportunity.”

McKellar, who is leaving the Brumbies to join the Wallabies fulltime, still had his game face on after the emotional win.

“Resilience is one of our pillars and we saw that tonight,” McKellar said.

“We got real impact from our finishers. 14-3 down with a red card that mateship came to the fore.”

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