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Chiefs top Brumbies to clinch home semis

THE Waikato Chiefs clinched a home semifinal in rugby's Super 14 by beating the ACT Brumbies 10-7 yesterday to start the tense final round of the regular season.

Waikato flyhalf Stephen Donald scored all of his team's points for the second straight week as the Chiefs booked a semifinal for only the second time in their history and first since 2004 - when they were beaten by the Brumbies.

All Black Donald scored and converted a try in the 36th minute of the first half, replying to a try three minutes earlier by Brumbies winger Francis Fainifo, leaving the teams tied 7-7 at halftime.

Donald's 67th-minute penalty provided the only points of the rain-soaked second half and lifted Waikato into first place. It will play its semifinal next Friday or Saturday in Hamilton.

"We're absolutely delighted," Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said.

"It was pretty tough. It wasn't a spectacle but we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We're excited. A win's a win. We're into the top four so what more can you ask for?"

ACT took a consolation bonus point for losing by fewer than seven points, lifting them to fourth on the table and giving them the dimmest of chances of reaching the semifinals.

Five teams remain in competition for the three remaining semifinal spots.

"This result leaves us in the four but we need a few unlikely results to go our way," Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles said.

Waikato can finish no worse than second, but could yield first place to South Africa's Bulls if the Bulls beat compatriots the Sharks in the final match of the regular season today.

The Chiefs dominated the match territorially but struggled to make any inroads against a solid Brumbies defense.

Almost 34 minutes of the match had elapsed before Fainifo scored the first try, pursuing a kick by fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper which was inadequately defended by Waikato winger Lelia Masaga.

Stirling Mortlock converted to lift his record tally of points in Super 14 matches to 996.


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