Without lifting a finger the Brumbies have moved into the box seat in Super Rugby’s Australian conference thanks to losses by the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels.
The Brumbies enjoyed the bye while the other contenders continued the misery of Australian teams playing in New Zealand, making it zero wins from nine matches.
Both teams were on the back foot early, with the Waratahs falling to the Crusaders 29-10 in Christchurch before the Rebels were rolled 36-15 by the Chiefs, who went to the top of the overall Super Rugby standings with the bonus point win.
The Waratahs do still have their destiny in their own hands, one point clear of the Brumbies in the race to be the guaranteed Australian entry in the play-offs.
However they face the clinical Chiefs in Sydney on Friday night, while the Brumbies host the lowly Sunwolves.
That means the Canberra side is likely to leapfrog the Waratahs and take the lead into the June break for the England Test series before they face three sides below them on the ladder in the Reds, Blues and Force.
The Waratahs meanwhile still have a trip to Tokyo to face the Sunwolves, followed by tough encounters with New Zealand teams the Hurricanes (home) and Blues (away).
Given Australia’s failure against the rampant Kiwi teams this season, the signs aren’t good for the Waratahs.
They went into the Crusaders clash on a four-match winning streak but gave the home side a 12-0 lead they were unable to claw back.
Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said his side wasn’t thinking about how the loss would affect finals.
“We’ve got another week of preparation for another Kiwi side, the Chiefs, who are doing well, so it’s another challenge,” Hooper said.
In a must-win match, the Rebels’ season slipped away in the opening 40 minutes, which coach Tony McGahan described as “embarrassing” as the Chiefs ran in four unanswered tries.
While the Reds were the only Australian winners of the round, with a 35-25 win over the Sunwolves, it came at a cost with their Japanese Test fullback Ayumu Goromaru requiring season-ending surgery on his shoulder.
Western Force’s horror season continued with their skipper Matt Hodgson also set to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season after dislocating his shoulder.
The Force fell short against the Blues 17-13, leaving them with just two wins from 11 games in 2016 ahead of a clash with the Rebels away next Sunday.
In the South African conference the Lions scored eight tries in pounding Argentina’s Jaguares 52-24 to move into pole position, two points clear of the Sharks, who are holding the last wildcard after crushing the Southern Kings 53-0.