The Chiefs have replaced the Stormers in the top eight following a convincing 59-8 bonus-point win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.
The result moves the Chiefs up to sixth in the overall table at the expense of the Stormers, who drop out provisionally from the top eight. The Cape side, though, remain in contention for a quarter-final berth, as they still have to play on Saturday.
A second consecutive humiliating defeat for the Rebels means their season is over, and only one Australian side, the Brumbies, will compete in the playoffs.
Notwithstanding their 66-point loss to the Crusaders last week, the Rebels were still in with a chance of progressing to the knockout stage of competition. But in this crunch game with a quarter-final at stake, the Melbourne-based side completely capitulated.
Three errors by the Rebels – including two poorly executed kicks by Quade Cooper – led to three easy tries for the visitors, who took a handy 21-3 lead into the break.
The visitors continued their stranglehold on proceedings in the second half as the Rebels defence leaked a further six tries, with wing Shaun Stevenson completing a hat-trick. In return, the Chiefs only conceded a single five-pointer.
Much like the Highlanders, the Chiefs will now anxiously await the results of the two South African derbies to ultimately determine the final make-up of the top eight and quarter-final lineup.
Rebels – Try: Matt Penalty: Reece Hodge.
Chiefs – Tries: Sam Cane, Shaun Stevenson (3), Lachlan Boshier, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Debreczeni, Marty McKenzie. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (6), McKenzie.
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimano, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Leinert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Atu Moli.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Tumua Manu.