The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Chiefs' title reign in doubt after heavy defeat in Super Rugby; Brumbies also slip back

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The Chiefs' two-year reign as Super Rugby champions is under threat after their 45-8 loss to the Hurricanes during the 15th round in which tournament standings underwent seismic transformation.

South Africa's Sharks provided an element of stability by beating the Auckland-based Blues 29-23 to remain atop the championships ladder, five points clear of the New South Wales Waratahs.

The Chiefs and ACT Brumbies, who were beaten 44-23 by the Pretoria-based Bulls, not only gave up their places atop the New Zealand and Australian conferences but entirely dropped out of the top six.

It is a measure of the closeness of this season's playoffs race that a single round can so thoroughly change the leading standings and a single defeat can impinge so heavily on any team's title hopes.

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