Make no mistake. The ACT Brumbies are the real deal.
The Brumbies have travelled across the Tasman and beaten a top four rival, downing the Waikato Chiefs 38-28 on their home turf on Saturday night.
The Brumbies arrived in Hamilton chasing three consecutive Kiwi scalps for the first time since 2014. This match, their first in New Zealand this year, was the real litmus test.
This was the game that would give Australian rugby fans a glimpse of just how close to the mark the country's leading Super Rugby side is against its New Zealand counterparts.
Every Australian franchise failed on New Zealand soil last year. The Melbourne Rebels conceded 71 points in Auckland on Friday night. But there are levels between the Brumbies and Rebels.
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The Brumbies are a bona fide contender. Rob Valetini is a world class player. The starters have been clinical. The finishers are making a spark, and fans are beginning to dream of home finals.
"All we'll talk about is enjoying this occasion. It's a special win," McKellar said.
"[We'll] recover up, and make sure we get our detail right and knowledge in place for the Crusaders. We won't worry about quarter-finals and where they're played. The reality is if you keep playing well and winning games, that's just the outcome.
"We're back here in the last round game of the season. Last year we were pretty battered after the Super Rugby AU competition and nearly rolled the Crusaders in Christchurch and then had a couple of disappointing performances.
"We're just pleased we could win today off the back of long travel and a long trip. We fronted up and got the right outcome.
"These games are curtain-raisers for finals footy really, aren't they?"
So much of the talk leading into the crossover element of the competition centred around taking chances. Don't, and the Kiwis will make you pay.
So scrumhalf Nic White took one when he could, darting down the blind after Tupou Vaa'i left an opening on the edge of the breakdown.
That lead was dashed within minutes when Alex Nankivell went over, but the response was just what Brumbies coach Dan McKellar wanted.
First came the scrum penalty, then the lineout, and then the rolling maul which has proven virtually unstoppable. This time Folau Fainga'a was on the end to charge over for the Brumbies' second.
It was clear Tom Banks, Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead had done their homework. Chiefs flyhalf Bryn Gatland's kicks failed to find the turf as often as he'd like, the Brumbies' back three so often waiting to swing into a counter.
The visitors took a four-point lead into the break, arriving as outsiders as far as the bookies' were concerned but right in the contest in a gripping opening half.
Brumbies assistant coach Laurie Fisher stressed the challenge in the second half would be to win the contact. Fail, and the Chiefs picks up momentum far too quickly.
So Jahrome Brown took it upon himself to set the tone. The in-form Brumbies flanker has been one of the unsung heroes of the campaign, forming an all-star loose forward trio alongside Valetini and Pete Samu.
Valetini kept turning up as the Brumbies' attack had their rivals backpedalling. It can be easy to overlook just how good the 23-year-old is, such is his rich vein of form.
While the forwards charged downfield, it was the outside men who put the icing on the cake. Wright drew in two defenders before sending dazzling outside centre Len Ikitau through a gap untouched to extend the margin.
Noah Lolesio's boot soon made it 28-14, but rampaging Chiefs No. 8 Pita Gus Sowakula cut the deficit to seven when he surged over off the back of a lineout. The Brumbies could not afford to switch off, or they'd risk giving up a lead like fellow Australian teams have made a habit of doing.
So Valetini stood up, again, this time charging through and finding Billy Pollard on his inside to put the result beyond doubt, as the Brumbies made 204 tackles to 106 in a mammoth defensive effort.
"Superb. Again I thought we defended really well in the first half," McKellar said.
"Probably the most dangerous player out there was the hooker from the Chiefs [Samisoni Taukei'aho]. He's a big boy, powerful, and won gain line a couple of times there which had us chasing our tail.
"For the most part, our defence was outstanding."
The mission does not get any easier for the Brumbies. Next week they host the Canterbury Crusaders at Canberra Stadium on Friday night as they look to sew up a home quarter-final.
A week later it's the ladder-leading Auckland Blues, before the Brumbies head back across the Tasman to face Moana Pasifika.
There's a reason White says "it's grand finals from here on out".
AT A GLANCE
Super Rugby Pacific round 12: ACT BRUMBIES 38 (Nic White, Folau Fainga'a, Len Ikitau, Billy Pollard tries; Noah Lolesio 3 conversions; Lolesio 4 penalties) bt WAIKATO CHIEFS 28 (Alex Nankivell, Cortez Ratima, Pita Gus Sowakula, Naitoa Ah Kuoi tries; Bryn Gatland 3, Kaleb Trask conversions) at Waikato Stadium.
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