The rain never came to Newlands but the Chiefs spectacular running and passing game did and we were treated to an 8 try Super Rugby master class from the two time Champions. The Chiefs have booked their place in a semi-final in Wellington against the Hurricanes next weekend after dispatching the Stormers in an entertaining match.
Bad news came for the Stormers in the opening moments when star open side Siya Kolisi limped off with a badly hurt ankle. But the Stormers fortunes were raised when they crossed the Chiefs’ try line first after 10min, strong work from the Stormers pack giving Vincent Koch (3) the chance run onto the ball from 5 meters out and he was unstoppable.
The rest of the half however belonged to the New Zealanders, running in four unanswered tries in the next 25 minutes, showing pace, accuracy and relentless attack. The first to Sam McNichol (14) after some deft handling from his insides followed moments later by Damien McKenzie (15) and James Lowe (11) combining down the left wing linking up with Brad Weber (9) on the inside. After Tom Sanders (6) pounced on a loose ball in-goal to score and Lowe produced a piece of individual brilliance to kick and chase a ball from 25m out, the Chiefs had climbed out to a commanding lead of 34 – 7. Just before the half time whistle there was still time for the Stormers to score through Vincent Koch who bagged his double from a pick and go.
Half Time: Chiefs 34 – 14 Stormers
To turn the game around the Stormers had to change the momentum and score soon after the break. But it was the Chiefs who scored early out wide after a tight-head scrum went wide and was finished off by McKenzie 5 minutes into the half. Then the momentum did change and for the next 25 minutes neither team could score. Multiple players were subbed and both teams tired on defence. Captain Schalk Burger (8) in his last game for the franchise did his best to rally his Stormers troops with some excellent runs and tackles and in the 71st minute replacement flanker Nizaam Karr ran an excellent line from a Stormers ruck to dive over. Scoreline 34-21, the Stormers dared to dream. Hurrying back for the conversion, they needed two tries. There were just 9 minutes to go…
But the Chiefs were not done and with three punishing tries in the last five minutes emphatically states why they should go to Wellington next weekend to play the Hurricanes. First replacement forwards Hika Elliot (16) and Tevita Kolomatangi (19) went over from close range. Then a fitting moment to end a spectacular match, an amazing kick and re-gather by McKenzie resulted in Tawera Kerr-Barlow scoring after the 80 minute mark. This Chiefs team is something else.
Final score Chiefs 60 – 21 Stormers.
Chiefs early score after half time was the game changer. At 34 – 14 the Stormers had a whiff of building second half momentum. Had the Stormers scored the score could have been 34-21 and within two scores of winning. But the try by Damian McKenzie at 45min to push the lead to 39-14 was a psychological victory for the Chiefs. It came from a massive tight-head scrum.
Man of the Match
Damian McKenzie. McKenzie Kicked 9/10 goal kicks, many from wide out, and assisted skilfully in 3 tries while scoring one. He at least one high ball accurately under intense pressure and was all-around safe and accurate in his positional play and defence. He showed all the qualities tonight that the All Black selectors see in this rising star.
Score and Scorers
Tries: V.Koch 2(10’,38’),N.Carr(71’)
Conversions: R.du Preez 2/2, B.Thomson 1/1
Tries: S.McNicol(13’) , B.Weber(16’), T.Sanders(23’), J.Lowe(33’), D.McKenzie(45’), H.Elliot(75’), T.Koloamatangi(78’), T. Kerr-Barlow(80’)
Conversions: D. McKenzie 7/8
Penalties: D. McKenzie 2/2
Cards & Citings