SYDNEY - The NSW Waratahs have outclassed the Brumbies 26-8 in a tense Super Rugby derby to set up a blockbuster final with the Crusaders.
Almost 40,000 fans packed into Allianz Stadium to see the Waratahs grimly defend their fortress and convert their only three try-scoring opportunities to earn a first title decider in Sydney.
After losing their only two previous finals to the Crusaders, the seven-time champions once again stand in the Waratahs' way of an elusive maiden championship after thumping Jake White's Sharks 38-6 in Saturday's first semi in Christchurch.
But unlike 2005 and 2008, the Waratahs will host the decider at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night after the minor premiers extended their club-record winning streak to eight matches with a spirited victory over the Brumbies.
With pedantic South African referee Jaco Peyper taking firm control, the Brumbies, with their superior set piece, relished the dour, Test match-style of game.
Even after falling behind 16-8 early in the second half, the Brumbies dominated possession and territory and threatened throughout the final quarter to end the Waratahs' season of hope.
But with inspirational captain Michael Hooper, powerhouse lock Jacques Potgieter and halfback Nick Phipps outstanding, the Waratahs hung on, with five-eighth Bernard Foley clinching the win with a late penalty goal and converted try.
Despite the end scoreline, the Waratahs had to pull out all stops in a tense second half, with Phipps' desperate try-savers on Brumbies pair Tevita Kuridrani and Scott Fardy telling.
The Brumbies' defeat was their first playoff loss to an Australian opposition and left the ACT outfit one win short of matching their run to last year's final.