Skipper James O'Connor scored the winning try five minutes after the final hooter, as the Queensland Reds beat the ACT Brumbies 19-16 to win the Super Rugby AU final in front of more than 40,000 fans at Lang Park in Brisbane on Saturday.
The biggest crowd for a rugby match in the world this year gathered anticipating the coronation of Brad Thorn's young side, but the Brumbies almost spoiled the party with a mature display of percentage rugby.
Leading 16-12 but reduced to 13 men with two players in the sin bin, the reigning champions resisted surge after surge at their line in the final 10 minutes, before the Reds finally moved the ball wide for first-five O'Connor to score.
An 11th successive home victory gave the Reds a second Super Rugby title a decade after their first, when they beat Thorn's Canterbury Crusaders at the same stadium.
"It was a tough one, it always is against the Brumbies," O'Connor grinned. "I'm super proud of the boys, they came home strong."
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks scored his side's only try in the 13th minute and pivot Noah Lolesio kept them in front for most of the match with a conversion and three penalties.
But yellow cards for Rob Valetini, Henry Stowers and Darcy Swain in the last 20 minutes took their toll, as they attempted the defiant late stand.
"We've got to be proud of that effort,"said Brumbies captain Allan Ala'alatoa.
"We spoke about resilience coming out here against 40,000 people and we really dug deep."
Seven years after he was sacked by Rugby Australia, O'Connor completed his redemption by scoring all his team's points with four penalties and the try, which he also converted.
He opened the scoring in the third minute but the Brumbies quickly started to dominate possession and territory.
They got their reward after 13 minutes, when Lolesio was tackled just short of the line but found Banks lurking on his shoulder.
The Reds almost got over for a try just before the half hour mark, but Wallabies halfback Nic White prevented prop Feao Fotuaika from getting the ball down.
O'Connor slotted his second kick as a compensation to cut the lead, but Lolesio replied with two penalties to give the Brumbies at 13-6 advantage at the break.
Two O'Connor penalties to one from Lolesio were the only scores after the break, until the Reds - roared on by the crowd - finally got across the line in a frenetic finish to steal the title.
"That was probably the difference to be honest," Reds flanker Angus Scott-Young said. "The crowd screaming at the end, I couldn't hear a thing. It was unreal, what a night."