The finals-bound Chiefs proved far too strong in a 50-5 win against the St.George Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Queensland was punished heavily while down to 13-men for the last 10 minutes of the first half, with ill discipline costing the Reds dearly.
Nick Frisby’s sin-binning in the 29th minute and a penalty try sparked a widening of the margin from which the home side never fully recovered.
Once back to a full complement of players in the second half the Reds played smarter and were far more competitive but by then the damage had been done.
They held the Chiefs until the 55th minute before a try double to Damian McKenzie either side of a five-pointer to Nathan Harris blew out the score.
Reds co-interim head coach Matt O’Connor said: “We knew what to expect from them, but they were far too clinical tonight. They exposed some deficiencies in our game and their intensity was hard to match.”
The late withdrawal of prop Greg Holmes and reserve back Anthony Fainga’a was a setback which created a starting spot for Sam Talakai and a Super Rugby debut off the bench for Norths’ Alex Gibbon.
Tighthead Talakai had an immediate role to play as the first quarter of the game began with a battle of the rolling mauls.
But it was the Chiefs’ slick offloading, combined with some simple errors from the Reds, that enabled the men from Hamilton to assert their dominance.
Two tries in the first 14 minutes to the New Zealand Conference leaders meant the Reds had much work to do to claw their way back into the contest.
The Reds’ plight only worsened at the back end of the first half. Twin yellow cards slapped on Frisby and Jack Tuttle for dangerous tackles reduced the side to 13 men which prompted the unusual sight of Liam Gill feeding Queensland’s scrum.
The Chiefs used that period to run in two quick tries and establish a 33-5 lead at halftime.
Queensland’s only joy of that difficult first half was a try to Chris Kuridrani, sparked by a Hendrik Tui offload and bullocking run from number 8 Curtis Browning.
A chest injury to captain James Slipper further complicated the comeback mission.
The Reds will need to recover quickly from the disappointment, as they host their final home game of the 2016 season against the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium next Friday, 15 July.
CHIEFS 50 (Seta Tamanivalu, Damian McKenzie 2, Atu Moli, Sam Cane, Nathan Harris tries, penalty try; McKenzie 5 conv) d St.GEORGE QUEENSLAND REDS 5 (Chris Kuridrani try).