Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs clinch playoff advantage with victory over top Aussies ACT Brumbies

A clinical dismantling of top Aussies ACT Brumbies at Canberra has seen the Chiefs clinched home advantage through the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs.

The runaway competition leaders dispatched their trans-Tasman rivals 31-21, a scoreline that probably flattered the home side, leaving the Hamiltonians beyond reach of their nearest pursuers on the competition table with a week remaining in the regular season. 

The Brumbies seemed to have a forwards advantage in the opening minutes, but a yellow card to prop and captain Allan Alaalatoa was yellow-carded midway through the first half seemed to take the wind out of their sails.

Luke Jacobson scores a try for the Chiefs
Luke Jacobson scores a try for the Chiefs. Photo credit: Getty

Ironically, their dominant pack led to the Chiefs' opening try, when a screwing scrum presented No.8 Luke Jacobson an unimpeded run down the blindside to score in the corner.

The Brumbies drew level, when they won an attacking lineout to set a platform for midfielder Len Ikitau to score under the crossbar, but Alaalatoa's temporary departure marked a change in momentum.

Damian McKenzie's penalty was the only addition to the scoreline during his absence, but soon after his return, first-five Josh Ioane bumped off a tackle and glided through the gaping defence to extend the advantage to 17-7 at the break.

The Chiefs really broke the Brumbies' spirit before halftime, when they repelled 18 phases of pressure on their goal-line. When the attack broke down, the Aussies won an attacking lineout, but found their usually potent maul completely powerless against the opposition defence.

All Blacks halfback Brad Weber left the contest early with concussion, but replacement Cortez Ratima was in the right place at the right time to pick off a pass between Brumbies forwards and race away to score. 

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan played his Joker card, when he brought tryscoring genius Shaun Stevenson off the bench midway through the second half, moving McKenzie into first-five, and Stevenson obliged with his first touch of the ball.

Trailling 31-7, the Brumbies managed consolation tries to winger Corey Toole and No.8 Pete Samu, but they ran out of time to mount a serious challenge to their cruising opponents.

The outcome see the Brumbies slip to fourth on the table, now unable to secure a home semi-final and at risk of conceding a home quarter, if the Hurricanes can topple the Crusaders next week.

They face Melbourne Rebels on Friday, while the Chiefs have nothing to play for, except momentum, when they visit Western Force next Sunday.

Chiefs 31 (Jacobson, Ioane, Ratima & Stevenson tries; McKenzie 4 conversions & penalty) ACT Brumbies 21 (Ikitau, Toole & Samu tries; Lolesio & Debreczeni 2 conversions)

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