For drama alone, Australia savoured a vastly more captivating Super Rugby final on Saturday night, but with the transtasman rivalry set to reignite this week, celebrations could be short-lived.
A couple of hours after the Crusaders survived two yellow cards to hold off the Chiefs in driving rain in Christchurch, Brad Thorn's Reds scored a bizarre try six minutes into added time to steal victory from the Brumbies in Brisbane and claim their first title in 10 years.
The Reds did everything they could to lose the Super Rugby AU final at home but, finally, after the Brumbies received two late yellow cards, Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou took a quick tap — a desperate, all-or-nothing play in the circumstances — and charged for the line. Tupou went agonisingly close to scoring — the Reds began celebrating as if he had — only for the ball to pop out and James O'Connor to cross for the match-winner.
That dramatic finish in front of a sellout crowd of 42,000 at Suncorp Stadium - the largest for a local derby in almost 20 years - suggests Australians are rediscovering their love of rugby.
The final was also screened on Channel Nine's free-to-air platform that peaked with 464,000 more fans to make this final the most watched Super Rugby match in Australia since the 2011 Reds' title win over the Crusaders.
Now, though, there must be a sense of trepidation circling Australian rugby. While financially the code remains on its knees, the Covid-19 enforced domestic competition sparked a resurgence in support — particularly for the Reds.
Thirteen months of Super Rugby separation from New Zealand has been beneficial for Australian rugby. The isolated success of Super Rugby AU revived local rivalries, promoted new talent, new broadcasters and allowed confidence to grow within the Brumbies and Reds especially.
Is that about to change now they are preparing to confront the five New Zealand teams?
Australian rugby is in a different place to the rock bottom of 2017-18, when they lost 40 straight games to their Kiwi rivals.
But it's perhaps the lingering effects of that dire run which has influential figures, including new Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos, wondering aloud what is best for the Australian game.
While the Reds and Brumbies should test New Zealand's best, the Force, winless Waratahs and Rebels, who lost their coach after Dave Wessels' recent resignation following his side's three-from-eight record, should prepare for a torrid six weeks.
It's one thing to produce a one-off performance, quite another to be subjected to high-calibre opposition week in, week out. Just ask the New Zealand teams how tough two rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa was. After losing over 30 players to injury, they didn't want a third.
There's no doubt the Australian teams face a significant step up.
Compared with their Kiwi opposition, a two-from-five ratio of quality teams does not bode well for maintaining interest in the Australian game. No one wants to watch their side get humbled week after week. The Waratahs in particular appear on a hiding to nothing.
The Hurricanes, with two wins from eight, are by far the worst New Zealand team this season. And yet they pushed the Crusaders to golden point, lost to the Chiefs in added time thanks to a match-winning Damian McKenzie penalty and defeated the Highlanders home and away.
Despite missing inspirational captain Ardie Savea, the Hurricanes provided enough evidence to suggest they will claim at least three Australian scalps. That assertion probably best paints the likely disparity between the two countries.
The Reds face a huge ask week one in attempting to recover from their final — and the hearty celebrations — to travel to Dunedin and take on the Highlanders, who admittedly may still be in a state of shock after coach Tony Brown ditched them to assist Jamie Joseph in Japan.
The Brumbies need to harness their hurt and hope the Crusaders' after-party leaves them vulnerable for their round one clash in Christchurch.
Making the long-haul trip to Perth to meet the Force is not an easy task for the Chiefs after losing their final and it would not surprise to see Clayton McMillan rotate his squad.
Yet travel bubble permitting, when the competition settles into a sense of rhythm as it builds to the scheduled June 19 final, a largely lopsided ledger and another Crusaders title seems imminent.
Any wonder leading figures in Australian rugby are numerous about maintaining interest.
Transtasman Week One Draw
Friday 14 May
Highlanders v Reds, Dunedin, 7.05pm
Waratahs v Hurricanes, Sydney, 9.45pm
Saturday 15 May
Crusaders v Brumbies, Christchurch, 7.05pm
Rebels v Blues, Melbourne, 9.45pm
Force v Chiefs, Perth, 11.55pm