ZACK HOLMES may have missed a match-winning penalty, but the ACT Brumbies rookie showed enough courage to prove he's capable of leading the team on its charge to the finals.

Exhausted and bruised, Holmes decided to put the game on his boot and take a shot from 38 metres out to try to lift the Brumbies to a come-from-behind win against the Queensland Reds.

The Brumbies are in the midst of a fairytale season with one of the most inexperienced squads in the competition and most thought that Holmes could seal another unlikely victory. Instead, the ball sailed 30cm wide of the posts and the Reds celebrated a one-point win - just their second triumph in Canberra in Super Rugby history.

Holmes understandably dropped to his haunches. But it must be noted that just two minutes earlier he was struggling to walk as he battled severe cramp.

In fact, for 10 minutes he was battling to even stay on the field.

While the Brumbies might not have beaten the defending Super Rugby champions, they showed they could match it with a team full of Wallabies and experience.

The new generation Brumbies have constantly risen to challenges everyone thought were beyond them this season.

But they face a new beast this week. Instead of preparing for a ''final'' or trying to win abroad for the first time in almost a decade, the Brumbies take on the lowly-ranked Melbourne Rebels.

They can't afford to have a drop in intensity after a massive two months of rugby. If they do the Rebels will pounce. But after the courage they showed at home last night, the Brumbies have already proved they're ready for anything.