The Rebels secured a place in the Super Rugby AU finals after a thrilling 34-30 win over the Force on Saturday.
Needing a win by four or more points in Newcastle, the Rebels left it late to reach the qualifying final, where the Reds, who later defeated first-placed finalists Brumbies 26-7, await.
The winless Force almost held off the Rebels, but Cabous Eloff scored the decisive try in the 79th minute before Matt Toomua converted at McDonald Jones Stadium.
It marks the first time the Rebels have reached the finals in Super Rugby.
— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) September 5, 2020
The Rebels threatened to put the Force away during the first half.
Tom Pincus and Reece Hodge scored tries after charge-downs, either side of the Force responding through Henry Taefu.
Hodge’s try – following a fine pass from Cameron Orr – came after two Toomua penalties as the Rebels took a 20-8 lead.
However, Andrew Ready crashed over either side of half-time for the Force to bring them level.
The Force scored 22 unanswered points, making the most of a man advantage as Brynard Stander went over after Pincus’ yellow card.
Dane Haylett-Petty ended that run after a break from Marika Koroibete, before the Force’s Byron Ralston was yellow-carded for taking Matt Philip out in the air.
Trailing 30-27, the Rebels needed a converted try in the final 20 minutes to advance to the finals.
Koroibete had a try ruled out for a forward pass in the 73rd minute before the Rebels’ chances were boosted when Fergus Lee-Warner was shown a yellow.
The Force defended desperately late, but the Rebels finally broke through, Eloff going over before Toomua converted from right in front of the posts to seal a memorable win.
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