Rugby-Waikato Chiefs ensure Super Rugby top spot with tough away triumph

  • Rugby
  • Saturday, 27 May 2023

(Reuters) - The Waikato Chiefs ensured top spot in the regular season standings and home advantage through the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs as they out-duelled the ACT Brumbies 31-21 in a gruelling clash in Canberra on Saturday.

An early score from Luke Jacobson was followed by tries for Josh Ioane, Cortez Ratima and Shaun Stevenson, but it was their resolute defence that ensured away success in a chastising defeat for the top Australian side in the competition.

Len Ikitau, Corey Toole and Pete Samu went over for the home side’s tries, but the Brumbies lost their unbeaten home record and slipped to fourth place in the standings.

The Auckland Blues had moved into third earlier on Saturday as All Blacks wing Mark Telea scored four tries to guide them to a 36-25 home win over the Wellington Hurricanes, who are fifth.

A top-four spot ensures home advantage in next month’s post-season playoffs.

The Chiefs now cannot be caught ahead of the last round of the regular season next weekend.

The Canterbury Crusaders, who have won 11 previous Super Rugby titles, all but made sure of second place as they delivered a clinical performance in handing the New South Wales Waratahs a 42-18 beating in Christchurch on Saturday.

The home side scored six tries but saw All Blacks midfielder David Havili, No. 8 Cullen Grace and flanker Christian Lio-Willie all limped out of the match to add to their injury woes. But even with a front-row crisis and needing to fly in 39-year-old John Afoa from France to play for them, the Crusaders were a class above.


A hat-trick from rugby sevens Olympic gold medallist Iosefo Masi propelled Fijian Drua to a dramatic one-point victory over Moana Pasifika in Lautoka, and kept alive their slim hopes of an historic quarter-final spot.

Moana Pasifika missed out on their first win of the competition as Christian Lealiifano failed with a last minute conversion as Fijian Drua scrapped through 47-46 in a 14-try thriller on Saturday.

On Friday, Queensland Reds narrowly missed out on a chance to seal their place in the playoffs as they lost at the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin, conceding a late try in a 35-30 defeat.

Melbourne Rebels handed a severe blow to the Western Force's hopes of advancing with a thumping 52-14 victory in a fitting home farewell for stalwart back Reece Hodge, leaving after nine seasons and heading to French Top 14 club Bayonne.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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