Brumbies will travel to Pretoria next week to face the Bulls
The Brumbies survived a late scare to secure a tough 15-13 victory over the Cheetahs in their Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.
The visitors came within inches of sending the game into extra time, but flyhalf Riaan Smit's touchline conversion sailed agonisingly wide to end their season in dramatic fashion.
The Cheetahs scored the only two tries of the game, with Johann Sadie scoring in the first half before replacement wing Ryno Benjamin went over in the dying seconds to give them a glimpse of hope.
However it was not to be and the Brumbies will travel to Pretoria next week to face the Bulls in the semifinal, whilst the other will see New Zealand heavyweights the Chiefs and the Crusaders do battle in Hamilton.
In a match in which goalkicks were decisive, Wallabies inside centre Christian Leali'ifano shrugged off two early misses to nail four penalties for the Brumbies.
Leali'ifano missed two of his first three shots at goal, then landed three in succession as the Brumbies relied on penalties to beat the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, who were appearing in a playoff match for the first time. Scrumhalf Nic White also kicked a long-range penalty for the Brumbies, who won the most-recent of their two Super Rugby titles in 2004.
Sunday's match at Canberra didn't come close to matching the high standard set by the seven-time champion Crusaders in their four tries to nil win over the Reds the day before.
The Cheetahs looked stage-struck for the first 15 minutes of the match but came alive when centre Johann Sadie scored their first try in the 16th minute, giving them a 5-3 lead.
The lead changed hands three times before White's long-distance penalty in the 47th minute put the Brumbies ahead 9-8. They then extended that lead to 15-8 with penalties to Leali'ifano in the 58th and 66th minutes.
The Cheetahs refused to let the match get away from them and attacked relentlessly through the last five minutes, remaining competitive though the tide of penalties from New Zealand referee Glen Jackson ran strongly against them.
They had the chance of several kicks at goal in the last five minutes but rejected that option as they sought the converted try that would take the match to extra time. With time up on the clock at Canberra Stadium, Pretorius engineered the try to Benjamin that gave Smit the chance to tie the scores.
His dying-seconds kick missed by inches and the Cheetahs' longest season, their first that extended to the playoffs, ended in muted disappointment.
Man of the match: Sarel Pretorius made a big impact when he came on and both captains - Ben Mowen and Adriaan Strauss - were also impressive, but the player that made the biggest impact on the game was Cheetahs flank Heinrich Brussow.
Moment of the match: The last kick of the match, which looked as if it was going over but then went wide at the last second to bring the match to a dramatic ending.
Villain of the match: There were none.
For the Brumbies:
Pens: Lealiifano 4, White
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Sadie, Benjamin
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Rynhardt Landman, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Petrus Vermeulen, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)