ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar wants his side to be the "good news story of Australian rugby" after charging to the finals and taking the first steps to rebuild crowd support.
The Brumbies overpowered the Queensland Reds in a 40-27 win on Saturday night to finish the regular season on a high.
It was a record-setting victory, equaling the club's longest winning streak at six and setting the Brumbies up to host a quarter final next Saturday night.
The bonus-point win was just what the players needed for a shot of confidence. But the scattered yellow supporter caps spread around Canberra Stadium was bigger than expected and was the icing on the cake.
The 9751 in the stands was more than 3000 more than attended the last home game and ensured the Brumbies avoided the lowest average attendance in their history.
They shivered through an apparent temperature drop to almost zero degrees, but the flame throwers at each end of the field helped warm their hands and served as symbol of the Brumbies trying to spark something special.
The Brumbies will be the only Australian team in the finals after the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels bombed their play-off opportunities.
"I do think there's a sense that we're representing the country," McKellar said.
"You get a bit sick of rugby getting beaten up in Australia for one reason or another. I'd love for us to keep working hard and put some really positive stories together for our own players and group to remember.
"But also for rugby to get some positivity over the next few weeks. I'm confident we can do that. The atmosphere walking into the ground on Pasifika day, there was a vibe. The players want to experience that. Hopefully we get double [the crowd] next week."
The Brumbies scored six tries to three in a largely dominant display against the Reds and will find out who their finals opponent is when they wake up on Sunday.
The Brumbies asked broadcaster for a 2.30pm kick-off in the opening week of the finals, but their request was denied and they will start at 8.05pm instead.
There was a sense of Canberra starting to rally behind the Brumbies at the Reds game as the crowd numbers started to grow.
The club also paid tribute to the late Shawn Mackay, hosting a reunion for the 2009 Brumbies team as a mark of respect 10 years after his death.
Players like George Smith, Matt Toomua, Mark Chisholm, Ben Alexander and Patrick Phibbs reunited to remember perhaps the saddest moment in Brumbies history.
But the vibe in the tunnel after the match as new Brumbies met old Brumbies was a special moment and gave off the feeling that the side is building something special.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, however. The Reds scored first and almost went ahead 14-0 before their second try was over-ruled because of Taniela Tupou's late hit on Christian Lealiifano.
"I'm not too bad. I pulled up all right. It's just those moments when you relax a bit, you pass the ball. Those are the only time's it's dangerous," Lealiifano said. "It jammed my neck up a bit but I'm OK now."
The Brumbies have won the Australian conference and will finish third on the overall ladder, treating fans to a show against the Reds. There were rolling mauls, penalty tries, slicing back line moves, big hits and a team continuing to emerge as a genuine title contender.
The Brumbies have now won six in a row for the first time since 2007 and have won seven in a row at home, making them the most in-form team in the competition.
The Brumbies played in the finals in five consecutive seasons from 2013-2017, making the grand final in 2013. But this is the first time they're playing like the real deal.
They fell behind early against the Reds, but two Queensland yellow cards changed the momentum and the Brumbies snatched a half-time lead.
Tupou was sin-binned and Lealiifano played on until the 50th minute, but the Brumbies felt the effects of the hit from the 135 kilogram wrecking ball.
The Brumbies were the overwhelming favourites before kick-off, but the Reds started like the team destined to play finals rugby.
They capitalised on some loose early play by the Brumbies and scored the first try of the game when Bryce Hegarty fell over the line in the eighth minute.
The Brumbies threw too many loose passes in slippery conditions and almost conceded a second try when Matt McGahan latched on to an intercept and appeared to score.
The try was denied, however, when Tupou was sent to the sin bin for a late.
It was a pivotal moment. Instead of the Reds opening up a 14-0 lead, the Brumbies scrambled over the line at the other end when Andy Muirhead dived over to cut the gap to two points.
The Brumbies eventually gained set-piece dominance and Lachlan McCaffrey scored from a pushover try to give the Brumbies the lead on the verge of half-time.
Their power was too much for the Reds to handle at the end of the first half, getting their second try in three minutes when their rolling maul powered over the line.
The penalty try decision was a double blow for the Reds, who also lost Scott Higginbotham to the sin bin for cynically play.
All of a sudden the Brumbies led 19-10 at the break and had found their rhythm in the icy conditions and it got worse when Rory Arnold scored seven minutes in the second half.
An intercept try to Tom Wright 90 seconds later broke the back of the Reds and helped the Brumbies gallop into the finals.
The Reds rallied and tried to muscle their way back into the contest when Duncan Paia'aua scored.
But the Brumbies were hell bent on revenge after losing to the Reds earlier this year and Murray Douglas crashed over to put the result beyond doubt.
"It was a dangerous game, I thought we turned up with a really nice mindset and kept our momentum going," Lealiifano said.
"There's still some improvement with us, the growth in the side has been nice. We have to keep working hard and hopefully we've got a few more weeks to go."
AT A GLANCE
ACT BRUMBIES 40 (Andy Muirhead, Lachlan McCaffrey, penalty try, Rory Arnold, Tom Wright, Murray Douglas tries; Christian Lealiifano 3, Ryan Lonergan conversions) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 27 (Bryce Hegarty, Duncan Paia'aua, Liam Wright tries; Bryce Hegarty 3 conversions; Matt McGahan drop goal) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Paul Williams. Crowd: 9751