The ACT Brumbies' Super Rugby Pacific season is once again over in heartbreaking fashion, beaten 19-6 in a tight semi-final by the Chiefs in Hamilton.
They never led, lost both territory and possession and were often camped on their line but somehow took the game down to the wire only to fall short of a history-making win.
The final will once again be an all-New Zealand affair, the Chiefs' stellar defence to face off with the Crusaders' potent attack after they beat the Blues 52-15 on Friday night.
It continues the perfect record of Kiwi teams hosting Australian sides in finals, and it's the second time in as many years the Brumbies have exited in a semi-final across the ditch.
Chiefs' five-eighth Damian McKenzie nailed all four of his penalty goal attempts, including a bomb from the half-way line on 72 minutes to gain a six-point advantage.
The All Blacks star was then instrumental in landing the knockout blow, creating the line break that would end with a pick-and-go try for lock Brodie Retallick two minutes from time.
Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio slotted two penalty goals, but perhaps his side will be wondering how different the game would have been if they'd opted to kick for another and try to tie things up while down 9-6, instead of kicking for the corner and looking for the lead.
Starting five-eighth Jack Debreczeni, who left early for Lolesio after an HIA, missed a simple penalty goal attempt when down 3-0, another small moment the Brumbies would be regretting in hindsight.
They weren't helped by a controversial knock-on call against them while deep in Chiefs territory inside the final quarter-hour, what looked a strip by Pita Gus Sowakula ruled an ACT error to make them sacrifice vital ground.
They went to halftime riding the high of a monstrous goal-line stand, spending more than five minutes camped deep in their own territory only to dig in and hit the sheds only trailing 6-3.
An absolute brain fade from fullback Tom Wright gifted the Chiefs another chance for points, kicking a goal-line dropout straight to an opposition player when finding touch would have ended the first half.
The Brumbies played the territory game more than they normally would and kicked at will in opportunities where they'd usually run. They lost that battle to a virtuoso performance from McKenzie who controlled the game with his boot and exploited space left in behind the back three.
CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei'aho, George Dyer, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaai, Samipeni Finau, Sam Cane (co-c), Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber (co-c), Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson
RESERVES: Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris, John Ryan, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Rameka Poihipi
BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Pete Samu, Nic White (c), Jack Debreczeni, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright
RESERVES: Connal McInerney, Blake Schoupp, Rhys Van Nek, Darcy Swain, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, Jordan Way
CONS: McKenzie 1/1
PENS: McKenzie 4/4
PENS: Debreczeni 0/1, Lolesio 2/2