Chiefs thrash Rebels to lock playoff spot

A bloddied Brodie Retallick runs with the ball during the match between the Rebels and the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images
A bloddied Brodie Retallick runs with the ball during the match between the Rebels and the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images

The Chiefs have surged at the right time of the season.

Just over a month ago, they were being counted out of the running for a spot in the Super Rugby playoffs. Now, they're locked into the top eight after an impressive 59-8 win over the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.

The bonus-point win lifts the Chiefs to sixth on the ladder for the time being, with 36 points, but they can finish no lower than eighth.

Coming into the game with a poor points differential, it looked like they wouldn't be able to celebrate a playoffs berth until early Sunday morning, having to hope the Sharks and Stormers didn't play out one of the more bizarre matches in the competition.

If the Chiefs simply won with a bonus point, they could have still missed the playoffs if the Sharks beat the Stormers, but the Stormers lost by seven points or fewer and scored three tries more than the Sharks.

Instead, the Chiefs didn't leave it to chance – improving their point differential from -65 to -14 – five points better than where the Stormers currently sit, meaning both the Stormers and Sharks need to win to overtake them.

The Chiefs have done everything in their power to secure their playoff spot, and stepped up after the Highlanders put the pressure on them. The Southerners' bonus-point win over the Waratahs earlier in the night meant the Chiefs had to get a bonus-point win as well to climb the ladder.

Thanks to some opportunistic attacking, they were able to do just that.

The Rebels started the game the better of the two sides. Early errors hampered both, but some nice work from halves pairing Will Genia and Quade Cooper had the Rebels in the right parts of the pitch.

It took a stunning length of the field try to spark the Chiefs into action, which was started by former Rebel Jack Debreczeni. The Chiefs No 10 collected what was an average kick and, instead of belting it into touch from the 22, he put his head down and hit a slight gap before getting the ball away to Brad Weber. Weber streaked up over halfway before linking up with Angus Ta'avao, who dropped the ball off to Sam Cane inside for the opening try of the night.

Poor kicks leading to tries was the story of the first half, with Shaun Stevenson and Lachlan Boshier both capitalising.

Leading 21-3 at halftime, the Chiefs kicked into another gear for the second stanza and were soon over the line to add a safety try to the three-try buffer they need.

From there, the floodgates opened.

The Chiefs ran in four more tries in the half to the Rebels' one, locking up the bonus-point win, ending the Rebels' season, and leaving the Melbourne faithful wondering how their season went so wrong.

The Rebels just needed to beat the Chiefs to secure their first berth in the Super Rugby playoffs but will instead be in the all too familiar position of watching from the outside.

Chiefs 59 (Shaun Stevenson 3, Sam Cane, Lachlan Boshier, Sean Wainui, Jack Debreczeni, Marty McKenzie tries; Debreczeni 6 cons, McKenzie con)
Rebels 8 (Matt Philip try; Reece Hodge pen)
HT: 21-3

Add a Comment