SYDNEY - The Super Rugby Australian conference-leading Brumbies have stumbled to a shock 27-21 away loss to the lowly Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Brumbies picked up a bonus point for the narrow loss to ensure they stayed top of the Australian conference and third on the overall ladder.
Both teams scored two tries, but the Cheetahs led for most of the game yesterday.
The Brumbies were up 11-9 at the break, but were probably fortunate to be in front after a tardy start.
Cheetahs five-eighth Johan Goosen, who finished with 22 points, kicked three early penalties to give his side a 9-0 advantage.
The game turned against the Brumbies in the first 15 minutes of the second half, in which the Cheetahs scored two tries and 15 unanswered points to lead 24-11.
A penalty and late converted try to hooker Stephen Moore got the Brumbies to within three points, with just over five minutes to go.
However, a booming 51-metre field goal to Goosen sealed the upset win for the home side.
"We didn't have the start we would have liked," Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.
"But you've got to give credit to the way the Cheetahs came out. They really hustled us early on and took advantage of early penalties we were giving away.
"Once you've lost that early momentum, it's hard to wrest it back."
It looked like being one of those nights for the Brumbies as winger Henry Speight had a try rubbed out for obstruction in the sixth minute and lock Scott Fardy was sin-binned nine minutes later.
Christian Lealiifano missed with two first-half penalty attempts and halfback Nic White was also off target with two early shots.
However, White did kick two penalties and set up winger Robbie Coleman for a try with a perfect stab kick.
The Brumbies halftime lead didn't last long as Springboks winger Willie Le Roux crossed following a fine pass from halfback Shaun Venter and Goosen leapt over Coleman to add a spectacular five-pointer just three minutes later.
White converted after Moore smashed his way over and then kicked a penalty after Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brussow was sin-binned, but Goosen's long range field goal settled the issue.