You could grant the Chiefs a patchy performance in their season opener, but what followed in their subsequent showing was completely inexcusable.

A 54-17 humbling at the hands of the Brumbies tied for the Chiefs' worst defeat since 2009, and one that has raised reasonable doubts over whether they will keep their seven-year streak of making the playoffs alive.

Unlike their one-point loss to the Highlanders last week, the Chiefs could no longer point to having five first-five eighths out injured as a reason for their defeat, nor they could they direction attention to any controversial call or pivotal moment that didn't go their way.

No, they were just completely outplayed. It's not like the Brumbies are some Australian juggernaut either – they lost to the Rebels last week – but they cut the Chiefs defence to shreds, running in five first-half tries, and eight in total.


With their forwards producing quick ball, the Brumbies backs took advantage of the scrambling Chiefs defence, with Christian Lealiifano making the most of the chance to run the show with some lovely touches.

One burst through the middle from the first-five saw Chance Peni sent free to cross in the corner, while Tom Banks scathed through the defensive line, and juked his opposite number, Shaun Stevenson, as the Brumbies piled on three unanswered converted tries.

The Chiefs had little territory or possession to speak of, and while Ataata Moeakiola produced a turn of pace to score his first Super Rugby try, the Brumbies forwards also displayed their gruntwork, with Lachlan McCaffrey charging over from the base of the scrum, and Folau Fainga'a capping off a stellar first half by dotting down from a lineout drive.

For the Chiefs – who hadn't lost in Australia since 2016, and have now lost three straight games going back to last season – it was concerning for more reasons than just the scoreboard.

While the Chiefs may have been a class behind the likes of the Crusaders and Hurricanes for the last few years, they were rarely defeated when coming into a game as substantial favourites, and had become a rather consistent side when playing overseas.

Perhaps, they just aren't as good as they used to be. Three members of their backline hadn't played Super Rugby before this season, and the departures of Charlie Ngatai, Tim Nanai-Williams, Liam Messam, Dominic Bird and Karl Tu'inukuafe left a gaping hole of experience which hasn't been replaced.

Sure, it doesn't help to be missing the likes of Sam Cane and Solomon Alaimalo to injury, but that wouldn't have changed the result, and with the Crusaders and Hurricanes both looming in the next three weeks, the Chiefs are going to need rapid improvements if they are to remain a true playoff contender.

Brumbies 54 (C. Peni 2, T. Kuridrani 2, T. Banks, L. McCaffrey, F. Fainga'a, J. Mann-Rea tries; C. Lealiifano 4 cons, W. Hawera 2 cons)
Chiefs 17 (A. Moeakiola, S. Taukei'aho tries; D. McKenzie 2 cons, pen)
HT: 33-10