Chiefs title hopes fade in defeat to Brumbies
allblacks.com 20 Jul 2014 Getty Images
But the two time champions were unable to grab the result as the Brumbies avenged their grand final defeat from 2013 and were knocked out of the 2014 Investec Super Rugby playoffs.
Within the first two minutes the visiting Chiefs were on the board after first five Aaron Cruden kicked his side ahead.
Although the Chiefs were dealt a blow minutes later when referee Craig Joubert deemed that Tim Nanai-Williams had committed an intentional penalty that earned him a break in the sin bin.
Immediately, the Brumbies capitalised turning down the penalty and went hunting for the try before halfback Nic White snuck over after some great work by forwards in the lead up.
Before the Chiefs had a chance to regroup they were back behind their posts as Brumbies winger Robbie Coleman crossed after he connected with fullback Jesse Mogg prior.
The Chiefs struggled to gain parity in possession and as the Brumbies soldiered towards the try line they showed patience which resulted in Mogg diving in at the corner to extend their lead.
Second five-eighth Christian Leali'ifano was able to kick three more points with the penalty count beginning to mount against the visitors.
But not to be disheartened, the Chiefs refused to give in as they set about launching a comeback. They managed to show some continuity with ball in hand were rewarded with a try to bring them back into the contest.
The Brumbies looked to put the heat on the Chiefs defence once more right before half time but the Hamilton-based franchise managed to hold on to head into the sheds trailing 22-10.
Early penalties by both Cruden and Leali'ifano got the second half scoring underway before Brumbies livewire Henry Speight, who had an outstanding game, was sent to the bin for a similar offense to Nanai-Williams in the first half.
Like the Brumbies, the Chiefs made use of the extra man advantage as halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow continued his sterling form with a try from close range to narrow the gap.
Kerr-Barlow's effort sparked the Chiefs attack with Nanai-Williams capping off a remarkable comeback, leveling the scores with a try after a line break by lock Mike Fitzgerald beforehand.
With the game in the balance and back to 15 men, the Brumbies countered as the home side powered towards the line and youngster Jarrad Butler cashing in on a unstoppable maul.
Trailing by seven, the Chiefs were not done and looked to square it all up as replacement Gareth Anscombe squeezed over in the corner but were unfortunate Cruden narrowly missed the side line conversion.
From there the hosts closed out the match after Leali'ifano missed an earlier penalty that would've closed out the match but it didn't matter as the Brumbies claimed the thrilling victory to progress.
Despite the loss, the Chiefs will continue to look ahead to the 2015 season, but the side also bid farewell to a number of players who have contributed to Chiefs franchise.
We salute and wish Chiefs centurion Tanerau Latimer, Aseli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki and Mils Muliaina all the best as they get set to move on in their professional careers.
Chiefs: 30 (Aki, Kerr-Barlow, Nanai-Williams, Anscombe tries; Cruden 2 pen, 2 con)
Brumbies: 32 (White, Coleman, Mogg, Butler tries; Leali'ifano 2 pen, 3 con)
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