7 Jun 2015

Chiefs book place in playoffs

8:58 am on 7 June 2015

The two-times champion Chiefs have sealed their place in the Super Rugby playoffs with a 24-3 win over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

The Chiefs captain Liam Messam on the charge.

The Chiefs captain Liam Messam on the charge. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Chiefs put in a brilliant defensive effort to keep the Reds try-less at Suncorp Stadium and spoil departing halfback Will Genia and former skipper James Horwill's final game in front of home fans.

In the veteran pair's final home game as Reds players ahead of overseas switches next year, the Chiefs crossed three times and but for a sixth minute Quade Cooper penalty goal, held the hosts scoreless in a dominant display.

It was a return to the disappointment that has marked this Super Rugby campaign for the Reds, who were unable to back up last week's dominant win over the Western Force which had pointed to a possible late-season revival.

A crowd of 25,841 turned up in the hope the Reds could put together successive wins for the first time this year in honour of Horwill and Genia, who have combined for 232 Super Rugby appearances and 116 Wallabies caps between them.

Perhaps stirred by the occasion, the Reds made a promising start, controlling the majority of possession and territory across most of the first half.

But their failure to turn that pressure into points ultimately cost them, and not for the first time this season.

Cooper's early penalty was all the Reds had to show for their toil and despite multiple chances to draw first blood, it was the Chiefs who struck first in the 26th minute.

Lively halfback Augustine Pulu created the opportunity, carving out space for winger Bryce Heem to score with a wicked pass off the back of a scrum.

Then just past the half-hour mark, the Chiefs were in again, catching Queensland with their pants down on their own tryline.

Captain Liam Messam's run from deep exposed a yawning gap between the ruck and the nearest player, Horwill, who could only look on in horror as the Chiefs flanker surged past to score a simple try.

Midfielder Andrew Horrell converted both, giving the visitors a 14-3 lead, which remained intact despite a furious but ultimately fruitless attacking raid after the half-time siren from the Reds.

The sin-binning of Chiefs number eight Michael Leitch just before the break opened up some opportunities for Queensland early in the second half, but again they couldn't find a way through.

Their card was marked with 10 minutes to go, when Charlie Ngatai touched down to snuff out whatever faint hope was left for the Reds.

The game kicked off on a sombre note with a moment of silence for former All Black Jerry Collins, who died with his wife in a car crash in France on Friday.

Messam said his side had tried to honour the memory of the hard-hitting flanker with their relentless defence.

"We talked a lot about Jerry Collins as an All Black ... We just tried to honour him with how we tackled tonight," he said.

The Reds' loss, laden with handling errors and defensive howlers, was a record sixth at home this season and will heap additional pressure on embattled coach Richard Graham.

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