VIDEO: Chiefs knock Rebels out in demolition derby
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Chiefs marched into the play-offs in emphatic fashion, blowing the Rebels away 59-8 in Melbourne on Friday.
Not only did the nine-tries-to-one demolition knock the Rebels out of the race, but it heaped pressure on other play-off hopefuls like the Lions, Stormers and Sharks.
It will result in added brutality and intensity in Saturday’s two South African derbies – the Stormers at home to the Sharks and the Bulls hosting the Lions.
It has been a rough two weeks for the Rebels, who for a big part of the season looked like Australia conference winners.
However, as was the case last year, the wheels have come off in spectacular fashion for the Melbourne franchise – who coughed up 125 points in their last two matches.
* AS IT HAPPENED: Did you miss any of the action? Recap all the drama here!
“We’re lucky enough to slip into the playoffs which we’re pretty excited about,” said Chiefs captain Sam Cane.
“It’s a great feeling, especially as there were times during the season when we were unsure whether things would pan out.”
The Rebels only needed to win to finish in the top eight to secure their place in the play-offs for the first time.
However, their season ended in embarrassing fashion – with the Rebels delivering their worst performance of the year.
While the scoreline didn’t top last week’s 0-66 loss to the reigning champion Crusaders, it hurt more with the match one the Rebels fancied their chances of winning.
It was the second straight year that Rebels wrecked their play-off hopes with a last round defeat, with conference winners the Brumbies the only Australian side advancing.
It was a painful outcome for a team who looked comfortably on course for the post-season knock-out stages, but lost seven of their last nine matches.
The Chiefs’ bonus point win meant the Hamilton-based side remained alive in the finals hunt, with their spot to be determined by other results over the weekend.
With former Rebel Jack Debreczeni at flyhalf, the Chiefs made the most of their opportunities with their first two tries coming off ineffectual Quade Cooper kicks.
Debreczeni collected the kick inside the 22 and ran through a hole with the Chiefs combining before skipper Sam Cane sealed the deal.
Their second try came after Cooper attempted to stab the ball through but it was charged down by centre Shaun Stevenson who galloped to the line for his first of three tries.
The visitors delivered a killer blow after the halftime hooter when a loose pass by Reece Hodge was scooped up by Stevenson and he off-loaded to Lachlan Boshier for a 21-3 scoreline.
Melbourne’s hopes weren’t helped by losing Marika Koroibete in the 10th minute when the Test wing was knocked out cold while trying to tackle Stevenson.
Their chances of mounting a second half challenge were crushed early when the Chiefs crossed after two minutes through wing Sean Wainui.
The last vestiges of the already busted dam wall disappeared with centre Anton Lienert-Brown, who was one of his team’s best, scoring amongst his team’s haul of nine.
Melbourne’s solitary try was scored by hard-working lock Matt Philip but the home crowd had to wait until the 67th minute to have anything to cheer about.
Man of the match: The entire Chiefs team deserve it for their efforts, but wing Shaun Stevenson scored a hat-trick and claims it … on behalf of the team.
For the Rebels
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Cane, Stevenson 3, Boshier, Lienert-Brown, Wainui, Debreczeny, McKenzie
Cons: Debreczeny 6, McKenzie
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Matt To’omua. 23 Campbell Magnay.
Chiefs: 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Atu Moli.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Tumua Manu.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)