The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Brumbies down defending champion Chiefs 32-30 to reach Super Rugby semifinals

  • Print

CANBERRA, Australia - The ACT Brumbies ensured the Super Rugby title will pass into new hands when they rallied after squandering a commanding lead to beat the two-time defending champion Chiefs 32-30 in a thrilling first-round playoff on Saturday.

Flanker Jarrad Butler scored his first Super Rugby try in the 60th minute to give the Brumbies a winning margin, dethroning the Chiefs who trailed 22-3 after 28 minutes before recovering to draw level at 25-25, 14 minutes into the second half.

The Brumbies went ahead 32-25 with Butler's try, converted by Christian Leali'ifano, before the Chiefs made one last desperate bid to save their title, scoring four minutes from fulltime through Gareth Anscombe.

Aaron Cruden's sideline conversion attempt, which could have forced the match to extra time, fell wide of the posts.

The Brumbies advanced to the semifinals for the eighth time and will play Australian rivals and first-place qualifiers the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney next Saturday.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie warned before the match that the performance of referees would be crucial in the playoffs and he was proved correct as the decisions of South African referee Craig Joubert had an overwhelming influence on the outcome in Canberra.

Joubert sin-binned Chiefs centre Tim Nanai-Williams in the sixth minute. In his absence, the Brumbies scored two tries through scrumhalf Nic White and winger Robbie Coleman to take an early and decisive 14-3 lead.

They extended that lead to 19-3 with a 20th minute try to fullback Jesse Mogg, then to 22-3 with a 28th-minute penalty to Leali'ifano.

Joubert's decision to sin-bin Nanai-Williams for what he deemed a cynical foul fewer than five meters from the Chiefs' try-line appeared mistaken but played a huge role in deciding the outcome, forcing the defending champions to play catch-up rugby.

The Chiefs scored a try through centre Bundee Aki to cut the lead to 22-10 by halftime then, in turn, took advantage of a yellow card against the Brumbies to eradicate the remainder of the deficit during the third quarter.

Joubert sin-binned winger Henry Speight, also for a professional foul, and as he languished in the sin-bin the Chiefs scored two tries to lock the match at 25-25 after 54 minutes. Scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored the first of those tries and, in a nice irony, Nanai-Williams scored the second to put his team on level terms.

Butler then scored the decisive try when the Brumbies mounted a drive from a penalty and lineout and backs, including Mogg and flyhalf Matt Toomua, added their weight to hurl the maul over the goalline.

Leali'ifano's conversion was the difference between the sides. The Chiefs threw themselves into a last, desperate attack and finally created the space from which replacement fullback Anscombe scored.

But they were forced to score wide out, and Cruden wasn't able to land the conversion which would have tied the scores.

"It was always going to be close and we knew it was going to have to be a full, 80-minute performance," Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said. "You don't knock a side like the Chiefs over easily.

"We're very proud of that effort but you have to give a lot of credit to the Chiefs for what they've done over the last three years. It's been an outstanding effort from them to be there."

The Chiefs struggled to overcome their poor start and were left chasing the match. They missed 28 tackles in the first half and Speight, especially, took advantage and ran for more than 150 metres.

"It wasn't the result we were after," Chiefs captain Cruden said. "We started pretty slowly and couldn't afford to give a quality side like the Brumbies a lead like that.

"We showed a lot of character to peg it back but in playoff games you need to be clinical for 80 minutes. I think we created a lot of chances and the momentum kept swinging between the sides.

"We had the Brumbies down in their 22 and were attacking well but they just seemed to have the desire on their line and they worked well for each other."


ACT 32 (Nic White, Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg, Jarrad Butler tries; Christian Leali'ifano 3 conversions, 2 penalties), Chiefs 30 (Bundee Aki, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tim Nanai-Williams, Gareth Anscombe tries; Aaron Cruden 2 conversions, 2 penalties). HT: 22-10.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS STANDUP - pretty sunflower in field off HWY 206 near Bird's Hill Park Thursday August 09/2007
  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google