The ACT Brumbies have secured a Super Rugby Pacific home play-off final after a last-minute penalty try ensured a gutsy 31-24 win over the Crusaders at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

The game seemed set to end level until Quinten Strange conceded a penalty try in the last minute. The Crusaders lock intentionally knocked back a loose ball after Noah Lolesio's side-line penalty goal attempt struck the upright.

The home side cemented third place with their win on Saturday - their first against their old rivals in 15 years.

The Brumbies' defence was mostly steadfast against a determined Crusaders attack, which dominated territory for large stretches of the match. 

But coach Steven Larkham will be concerned that his side let the opposition level the match late after leading from the 11th minute.

The Brumbies had a 10-point buffer coming out from halftime but a Noah Hotham try with 12 minutes left and a penalty kick from Chay Fihaki let the visitors level the scores.

It was an all-too-familiar feeling for the Crusaders, who have looked competitive throughout the season but remain second-bottom after just two wins.

The Brumbies took the ascendancy after a forward pass denied Sevuloni Reece an early opening try for the Crusaders. 

The home side's dominant forward pack picked and drove their way irresistibly towards the tryline before Noah Lolesio lifted his head and found Andy Muirhead all alone on the right wing with a cross-field bomb to open the scoring.

Soon after Brumbies fullback Tom Wright found himself one-on-one with Crusaders five-eighth Fergus Burke, who he left in his wake with a disdainful don't argue on his way to the tryline.

But the Crusaders got themselves back into the game after Tamati Tua was sent to the bin for a high shot on Jone Rova. 

Crusaders fullback Johnny McNicholl made the most of the numerical advantage to get his side on the board with an overload on the left flank.

Wright scored his second of the night before Reece caught the Brumbies defence napping to scamper through for the first try after the break.

No.8 Rob Valetini went over in the second half to extend the Brumbies lead before the chaotic finish.

The win secures a home play-off final for the Brumbies after the fifth-placed Reds were beaten 29-18 by the Fijian Drua in Suva earlier on Saturday.

Brumbies 31 (Tries: Muirhead, Wright 2, Valetini, Penalty; Cons: Lolesio 2) def Crusaders 24 (Tries: McNicholl, Reece, Hotham; Cons: Burke 3; Pens: Fihaki)



Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Ollie Sapsford, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Caderyn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Rhys van Nek, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ben O’Donnell.

Crusaders: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Jone Rava, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Antonio Shalfoon, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 George Bell, 17 George Bower, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Dominic Gardner, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Macca Springer.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran; Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Glenn Newman