The Brumbies have kept themselves on the top of the Australian conference ladder but missed the chance for a bonus point in a 30-22 win over the Rebels.
That buffer may last just a day, with the Waratahs to play, but the win puts them five points ahead of the Rebels, lengthening their Melbourne rivals’ finals odds.
Three opening half tries to one and the bulk of the possession put the Brumbies on top at half-time, after David Pocock, Rory Arnold and Christian Lealiifano all crossed.
The Rebels narrowed a 10-point margin to just three points with 10 minutes to go before a 71st minute Nigel Ah Wong try sealed the result for the Brumbies.
A 25-phase attack resulted in a seventh minute penalty to Lealiifano, who put the Brumbies in the early lead, before a deft hand off from Jack Debreczeni put Cam Crawford through a gap to one-up the visitors three minutes later.
The Brumbies only needed one realistic chance at a rolling maul to strike back, through flanker Pocock in the 16th minute.
The ACT franchise hammered the Rebels defence in the early half and another multi-phase play, gave Rory Arnold the Brumbies’ second of the night in the 33rd minute.
It was rookie James Dargaville that set up the third, putting Lealiifano into a gap and giving the Brumbies a 10-point buffer in the 32nd minute, with a speedy conversion attempt ending the chance to review a possible forward pass.
TMO George Ayoub was quicker to react the second time around, with a 68th minute Allan Alaalatoa try disallowed after a video replay, before the Ah Wong sealer.
The Rebels’ inexperience may have cost them at times, captain Nic Stirzaker opting to take a tap instead of going for the points, with half-time closing in, proving a potentially costly decision.
That desperation for tries generated some creative attack, including a short lineout to Adam Thomson giving the former All Black a chance for a sneaky offload, before inside centre Reece Hodge was held up over the line.
Hodge redeemed himself just two minutes later, finishing off a speedy attacking phase to pounce in the corner and narrow the margin to three points.
Scott Fardy dotted down in the corner off a similarly slick attacking move on the other end of the pitch, started by replacement prop Ruan Smith, before a Mike Harris linebreak handed Sefa Naivalu the chance to draw the Rebels just three points shy once again.
Alaalatoa’s try was disallowed but Ah Wong rendered that almost irrelevant.
Brumbies lock Sam Carter’s night was ended after a dose of friendly fire in the 23rd minute, after a Lealiifano high-ball attempt collected him in the head
The Brumbies have a bye next weekend, while the Rebels go to Hamilton to take on the Chiefs.
(Tries: Crawford, Hodge, Naivalu Cons: Debreczeni 2 Pens: Debreczeni)
(Tries: Pocock, Arnold, Lealiifano, Fardy, Ah Wong Cons Lealiifano: pens: Lealiifano )