Lions, Chiefs put up 50 points as Super Rugby playoffs near
The Lions returned to the top of Super Rugby after putting away the Southern Kings while the Chiefs moved closer to clinching first place in the New Zealand conference with an eight-try win over the Queensland Reds on Friday.
Both the Lions and the Chiefs racked up 50 points in the penultimate round of regular-season games as they seek playoff form, with the Lions winning 57-21 and the Chiefs 50-5.
The bonus-point win for the Johannesburg-based Lions took them back above the Hamilton-based Chiefs by a point.
The big win at Brisbane moved the Chiefs six points ahead of the second-place Crusaders in the conference in the penultimate round of the regular season. The Christchurch-based Crusaders host Melbourne on Saturday.
Flyhalf Damian McKenzie scored a pair of tries and kicked five conversions to lead the Chiefs, who led 33-5 at halftime.
The Lions were expected to beat the struggling Kings, but struggled themselves to find their best form until a pair of yellow cards for the Kings in the second half. That kicked the Lions into gear and they scored five of their eight tries in the last 25 minutes.
The Lions also picked up a trophy at Ellis Park, for winning the Africa 2 conference.
The Lions, who were already assured of a spot in the playoffs, will finish the league stage away at Argentina's Jaguares. Two-time champion Chiefs can seal their progress when they travel to defending champions the Highlanders.
Earlier Friday, the Auckland-based Blues damaged the playoff chances of the ACT Brumbies when they beat the Australian conference leaders 40-15.
The Blues are the last-place team in the New Zealand conference and their effortless win over the Brumbies raised further questions over the current strength of Australian rugby. The Blues scored four tries to lead 28-7 after only 20 minutes.
All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino scored two tries and saw his team score two more while he spent 10 minutes on the sideline after conceding the penalty try which gave the Brumbies their first points.
Hooker James Parsons, prop Sam Prattley, and winger Matt Duffie also scored tries.
"We're always at our best when we play on our instinct. That's what we're good at," Parsons said. "But we earned the right to play that way."
The New South Wales Waratahs, level with the Brumbies in the standings, can take charge of the Australian conference if they can beat the Wellington-based Hurricanes on Saturday at Sydney.