Hamilton - The Chiefs clinched a home semi-final in rugby's Super 14 by beating the Brumbies 10-7 on Friday to start the tense final round of the regular season.
Chiefs 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 the Chiefs into first place. It will play its semi-final 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?"
Brumbies 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 semi-final spots.
"This result leaves us in the four but we need a few unlikely results to go our way," Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles said.
Chiefs can finish no worse than second, but could yield first place to the Bulls if the Bulls beat compatriots the Sharks in the final match of the regular season on Saturday.
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.
The Chiefs hit back almost immediately with a try to Donald. Masaga atoned for his earlier defensive lapse with a strong break down the right-hand touch and the ball moved infield to Donald who pierced the defense, then tied the scores with the conversion of his own try.
The second half was similarly hard-fought and featured few scoring chances, though Waikato developed a 71 percent territorial advantage. Brumbies disrupted the Chiefs' scrum and lineout and turnovers limited both teams' continuity.
Donald broke the deadlock with a penalty with 13 minutes left from an infringement which saw Brumbies hooker Huia Edmonds receive a yellow card.