The ACT Brumbies will be left to rue a disappointing first-half after they fell to the Auckland Blues in Saturday's Super Rugby Pacific semi-final at Eden Park.
The visitors travelled to New Zealand determined to end years of heartbreak, however, a 20-minute period in the opening stanza proved the death-knoll for their season.
ACT eventually fell 20-19 in a thriller, having trailed 20-7 at the break.
The loss marked the end of an era for the Brumbies, coach Dan McKellar set to depart to take up a role with the Wallabies.
Also saying goodbye are veteran Scott Sio, who became the third most-capped Brumby on Saturday night, Irae Simone, Tom Banks and Folau Fainga'a.
While proud of the fight shown in the second half, Brumbies captain Alan Alaalatoa was left devastated his team's season had come to an end.
"We knew it was going to take a hell of an effort for us to come out here and get the job done," Alaalatoa told Stan Sport.
"We showed a lot of heart there in the second half, we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game but didn't quite ice it in the end. We're pretty disappointed now."
The match was lost in the first half, the Blues making their opponents pay for a number of sloppy errors throughout the opening stanza.
The hosts were lethal from all over the park, the side able to turn defence into attack and making the most of some poor defence.
The missed tackles and high error count stifled any chance McKellar's side had of building pressure in the opening 40.
It was the opposite of what the Brumbies had planned for, the team aware they had to convert their chances if they were to prevail.
The Blues had no such struggles and made their opponents pay for their errors by capitalising on their chances.
Even the set-piece, normally the linchpin of the Brumbies' attack, faltered, the Blues dominating at scrum and lineout time.
The Brumbies enjoyed the perfect start, Simone bursting through the Blues' defensive line and racing away to hand his side a 7-0 lead after just three minutes.
The hosts hit back moments later through a Stephen Perofeta penalty goal, before ACT again had a chance to score.
Rather than chasing three points, the Brumbies turned to their lineout and the driving maul.
The Blues, however, held firm through some staunch goal-line defence and forced a line dropout.
The defensive stand acted as a turning point in the first half, an injured Tom Hooper spilling the kick-off to hand possession back to the Blues.
That was the end of the flanker's involvement, succumbing to a shoulder injury.
From there, a pair of penalties handed Auckland another three points and moments later they hit the lead courtesy of loose forward Hoskins Sotutu.
Trailing 13-7, the Brumbies had multiple opportunities to hit back, however, they were left to rue a number of uncharacteristic errors.
The Blues made their opponents pay, turning defence into attack to extend the margin to 13 with five minutes remaining in the first half.
The door was left ajar for ACT to gain the upper-hand in the 53rd minute, Auckland hooker Kurt Elklund given a yellow card for a lifting tackle.
The ruling eventually proved the turning point, the Brumbies dominating from that point on.
It took a while, but the visitors eventually made the most of the extra man, Lachlan Lonergan crossing after a well-constructed driving maul.
Five points were all the side could manage during the 10-minute period, however, it set the stage for a thrilling final 20.
The Brumbies had another chance to strike with seven minutes to play, but the Blues held firm before a crucial lineout steal.
That was not the end of the fighting finish, Adrian Choat sin-binned in the 74th minute for a high tackle.
Lonergan added a second from the driving maul with four minutes to play, Lolesio converting to make it a one-point game.
The Brumbies had one last chance to hit the front, a drop goal in the final minute charged down.
That would prove the end of the comeback, the Blues scrambling to secure the ball and a place in the Super Rugby Pacific final.
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