The Melbourne Rebels' hopes of a maiden Super Rugby finals appearance have been rocked by a rampant Chiefs 36-15 in their clash at Waikato Stadium.
Sitting third in the Australian conference behind the Waratahs and Brumbies, the Rebels needed to topple the two-time champions to give themselves a chance with only four rounds remaining.
But the home side raced in four unanswered tries in the first half to set up the impressive win that sent them to the top of the overall standings.
Melbourne let themselves down with too many errors, turnovers and missed tackles and the clinical Chiefs made them pay.
The Rebels got off to the worst possible start with Chiefs centre Seta Tamanivalu stepping back inside to touch down in the third minute.
The home side continued to pile on the points with hooker Nathan Harris, winger Toni Pulu and playmaker Aaron Cruden setting up a 26-6 halftime lead.
Melbourne looked to have scored just before halftime when five-eighth Jack Debreczeni got a quick ball away to winger Tom English, who dived across in the corner but the TMO ruled the pass was forward.
There was no coming back from that for the Rebels, although they did manage two second half tries to the Chiefs' one.
Hard-working fullback Mike Harris scored the first, which he converted and also booted a penalty.
Harris also had a hand in the second, splitting the defence for centre Reece Hodge to score late in the match.