The Chiefs scored five tries in their 36-20 hammering of the Stormers, reports JON CARDINELLI.
In the build-up to this match, the Stormers had whinged about the tendency of New Zealand sides such as the Crusaders and Chiefs to hold players back at the breakdown. They had urged referee Craig Joubert to keep a close eye on the Chiefs’ tactics at the tackle, as ultimately they felt it would allow for a fairer contest.
But the game in Hamilton was anything but fair. The Chiefs didn’t need any underhanded tactics to dominate the breakdown and the contest as a whole. They simply upped the intensity at the point of contact, and sought to play the game at a breakneck speed. The Stormers obliged by missing tackle after tackle, and for a long time there was only one team in the match.
Indeed, the half-time scoreline of 17-6 was not a true reflection of proceedings. The Chiefs had ample attacking opportunities, and failed to convert on many occasions. They sought to take quick lineouts and were devastating on the counter-attack, and somehow the Stormers managed to stay in touch right up until the 39th minute.
Unbelievably, the score at that stage was just 10-6 to the hosts. The Stormers' scrum troubled that of the Chiefs, forcing three penalties within kickable range. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis converted the first two chances, and should have goaled the third. It was a bad miss at a crucial point of the game.
Catrakilis’s halfback partner Nic Groom made another costly error right on the stroke of half-time. The Stormers won a lineout outside their own 22, and Groom kicked the ball directly into touch. This afforded the Chiefs’ one final attacking platform before the break, and while it would take a fortuitous bounce in the build-up and then a knock back over the tryline by a Stormers player, the Chiefs got their second touchdown to finally earn some reward for their dominance.
It was not the most clinical performance by the Chiefs, but then that was to be expected given the speed of their approach. It was a slap in the face for a team such as the Stormers, who have long prided themselves on their defence. On Friday, the Chiefs showed no respect for that defence.
Any Stormers’ hopes of remaining in touch with the Chiefs was shattered shortly after half-time. Tim Nanai-Williams managed to offload in the tackle to Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who finished the movement under the posts.
The Chiefs forwards may have laid the platform, but the backs also got through a mountain of work. Aaron Cruden was excellent in that No 10 position, and out on the wing, James Lowe was a threat with both ball in hand and the boot.
The Stormers should be disappointed with their defence. It was the redeeming feature in last week’s loss to the Crusaders, but on this occasion, it was woefully inconsistent. Their poor attack also compromised that defence, as the spate of knock-ons and turnovers often gifted the Chiefs counter-attacking chances.
Gio Aplon scored in the 62nd minute, and Nizaam Carr in the 76th to spare the Stormers the embarrassment of finishing the game tryless. The Chiefs were guilty of dropping their intensity in the second half, but would have the final say when they secured the bonus-point score through Tevita Koloamatangi. A further try by Tanerau Latimer at the death completed the rout.
The Chiefs have made a statement with this display, while the Stormers continue to show why they will not contend for the title in 2014.
The Cape side have lost three of their first four matches, and their chances of bouncing back in Australia over the next two weeks will be compromised by their lengthy list of injury concerns.
Chiefs – Tries: James Lowe, James Marshall, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tevita Koloamatangi, Tanerau Latimer. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4). Penalty: Cruden.
Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon, Nizaam Carr. Conversions: Peter Grant (2). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2).
Chiefs – 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Webber, 22 Robbie Fruean, 23 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Stormers – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images