Friday's Super Rugby round-up: Big wins for Highlanders and Chiefs
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 14/06/19 2:18pm
A recap as the final round of Super Rugby's regular season kicked off with victories for the Highlanders and the Chiefs
Highlanders 49-12 Waratahs
Highlanders preserved their slim hopes of a place in the Super Rugby quarter-finals with a 49-12 bonus-point win at home to the Waratahs.
The Dunedin-based side scored six tries in the match in Invercargill, including a penalty try, to lead 42-7 at half time, but lost their way and scored only one more try in the second half.
The Waratahs, on the other hand, needed a bonus-point win to have even a tiny chance of remaining in the playoff race.
But the visitors, who fielded a second-string team, found themselves overwhelmed by a determined Highlanders outfit which raced to a 28-0 lead with four converted tries in the first 24 minutes.
Josh McKay, Tevita Li, lock Tom Franklin and winger Waisake Naholo all went over as the Highlanders raced to a 28-0 lead in 24 minutes.
The Waratahs struck back with a try from full-back Alex Newsome, but the Highlanders went further ahead with a penalty try from a rolling maul and a further score from centre Tei Walden.
The second half lost its structure and both teams managed only one try apiece, with fly-half Mack Mason getting one for the Waratahs and centre Rob Thompson adding another for the home side.
The Highlanders must now wait to see how the rest of the weekend unfolds to find out whether they have done enough to secure a play-off place.
Rebels 8-59 Chiefs
Shaun Stevenson scored a hat-trick of tries as the Chiefs routed the Rebels 59-8 to storm into the Super Rugby play-offs, ending the Australian team's season at the same time.
The Chiefs needed to win by three tries or more to get the required bonus point, but the Rebels appeared eager to send them on their way as they committed a string of terrible errors in the first half.
In the 13th minute, Quade Cooper kicked possession away with an ill-directed grubber then missed a tackle on Brad Weber as the pacy scrum-half burst forward to help set up Sam Cane's opening try under the posts.
Less than 10 minutes later, Rebels fly-half Cooper kicked straight into Stevenson's shins at midfield on the left wing and the winger gleefully swooped on the ball before dashing away for an intercept try.
Down 14-3 after the half-time siren, the Rebels tried to run the ball out of their half but a horrible pass by Reece Hodge at midfield fell short of his target and was again scooped up by the enterprising Stevenson.
The winger was pulled up by Cooper just short of the line but flanker Lachlan Boshier was there in support and barged over near the right post as the Chiefs went to the break with a 21-3 lead.
Tries by Anton Lienert-Brown and Sean Wainui in a five-minute burst soon after the restart killed off the contest, but the Chiefs would add another four, with fly-half Jack Debreczeni grabbing one at the 57th minute to compound his former team's misery.
Martin McKenzie and Lachlan Boshier got the others for the Chiefs before Matt Philip grabbed a late consolation try for the hosts, who became the third Australian team to finish their campaign early.