Brumbies 28 Kings 28
Brumbies v Kings, April 5
Henry Speight scores a try. Photo: Jay Cronan
It was supposed to be an impossible match to lose and a chance for the ACT Brumbies to flex their Super Rugby muscle with a dominant performance.
But instead of extending their lead at the top of the Super Rugby ladder, the unbackable Brumbies were left licking their wounds as the Southern Kings caused one of the biggest boilovers of the season.
In high drama at Canberra Stadium for the second week in a row, the Kings scored a converted try after the siren to snatch a 28-28 draw and put massive question marks over the Brumbies' title credentials.
The competition's newest side, the Kings were given no hope of toppling Jake White's Brumbies.
Bookmakers made the Brumbies $1.01 favourites - the first time an Australian team had been given odds more akin to the world's best race horse, Black Caviar.
Maybe the Brumbies took their foot off the pedal or maybe the Kings exposed frailties in a Brumbies' line-up which has been wavering over the past three weeks. In the end Ben Mowen said the "crap things" in the Brumbies' game cost his team any hope of victory.
The match ended in dramatic fashion when Ben Alexander was penalised after the siren for an illegal shoulder charge and the Kings had a chance to steal a draw.
The Brumbies' defence held strong, but they were ill-disciplined and No.8 Cornell du Preez took full advantage to dive over and score well after the final siren.
George Whitehead then converted to level the scores and the Brumbies were left shattered as they suffered an embarrassing result at home.
The Brumbies have led the way this season, but the Kings have put a massive dent in their plans to make the finals.
The visiting Kings players posed for a team photo on the field after the match, while the Brumbies trudged into the change rooms after an "extremely disappointing" result.
"You've got to give credit to the Kings," Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said.
"But when we analyse our side we won't look at the things they did, we'll look at the crap things we did and there were plenty of them, which is disappointing. We want consistency in this group and we speak about it, at the moment we don't have it."
What was built as a walkover turned into a dogfight as the Kings stole the lead in the second half and the Brumbies had to dig deep just to avoid defeat.
Since their near perfect first-half against the Durban Sharks three weeks ago, the Brumbies have been rusty and scrappy.
Passes have missed the mark, kicks are too deep and they have dropped the ball at crucial moments - the spark that kick-started their season has disappeared.
If they want to be a title contender, they need to find away to get their groove back.
Instead of chasing a four-try bonus point against a lower-ranked opponent, the Brumbies had to rely on penalty goals in the second half to keep them in the contest. Coach Jake White was adamant the Brumbies were not taking the Kings lightly in the lead-up to the contest and admitted his players needed "harsh words" at half-time. In the end it didn't have the desired result.
"I thought we got off to a great start in the first 15 [minutes] and we had an opportunity to take a step up," White said.
"But credit to the Kings. They were tough and maybe it was a wake-up call that they're not [as easy to play against] as people think they are. They're a good side. A lot of people thought [the result] would be a formality but we had some harsh words at half-time."
The next two weeks will prove crucial to the Brumbies' goals this year.
They play the winless Otago Highlanders in Dunedin next Friday night before an Australian blockbuster against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
White will know there's plenty of work to do, but in a massive positive Pat McCabe made a successful comeback from a career-threatening broken neck.
His comeback got off to a perfect start as the Brumbies cruised out to a 13-0 lead in the opening stages.
They scored two brilliant tries. The first was set up by Christian Lealiifano, who put through a superb grubber for a flying Henry Speight. The second was set up by Nic White who through a perfectly-weighted cut-out ball to Joseph Tomane, who strolled over the try line.
But that's when all the attacking momentum stopped.