Hamilton Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs claimed the final place in the Super Rugby Semi-finals by beating the Stormers 21-60 at Newlands in Cape Town.
The Chiefs victory means that three New Zealand teams – Hurricanes, Highlanders and the Chiefs – will contest the Semi-finals and one South African – the Lions.
The Chiefs will now return to New Zealand as they will play the Hurricanes in Wellington next weekend in the Semi-finals.
The Chiefs outscored the Stormers by eight tries to three and Damien McKenzie scored 25 of the Chiefs 60 points.
The Stormers look rattled and had their noses rubbed well and truly rubbed in the lush Newlands turf by the enterprising Chiefs who ran in four first-half tries to pave the way for the emphatic victory..
From the time the Chiefs scored their opening try it was one-way traffic and though the Stormers came into the picture sporadically they never seriously threatened the visitors’ hold on the match.
The teams were off to a pretty hectic start as the players, seemingly invigorated by the Newlands evening chill ,chose to run the ball at every opportunity.
The early free-flowing fare, almost carefree at times, was riddled with errors and this saw defence take a back seat. After 20 minutes play, the Chiefs had run up a 17-7 lead, which shows the scoring rate (24 points) was ahead of the clock.
Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty.
Just before this kick, Stormers flank Siya Kolisi cried off with an ankle injury and replacement Rynhard Elstadt joined the fray.
The Stormers responded with a few sorties into the Chiefs’ 22m area and the pressure took its took when the Stormers forwards helped prop Vincent Koch wormed his way over a try, which flyhalf Robert du Preez converted in the 10th minute..
This setback proved to be the cue for the visiting New Zealanders to unleash the full might of their attacking prowess and in the ensuing minutes the Chiefs grabbed the match by the scruff of the neck and ran up a runaway 14-34 halftime lead, on the back of four tries.
Rightwing Sam McNicol (13th minute), scrumhalf Brad Weber (16th), eighthman Tom Sanders (23rd) and leftwing James Lowe (33rd) were the try scorers. During this time passage of play, McKenzie goaled four conversions and a penalty and his 11-point contribution pushed the scoreline out to 7-34.
Two minutes ahead of the halftime whistle,Koch crashed over for his second try and Du Preez goaled splendidly from touch to round off the first-half scoring.
There would not have been anyone in the home crowd of 28 900 spectators who would have held out hope of the Stormers staging a fightback of any significance, given the Chiefs’a all-round superiority in the opening 40 minutes. Chiefs’ playing tempo proved a touch too hard to contain and the Stormers were unable to wrest back the initiative with meaningful passages of play.
And if there were still lingering doubts about the Stormers’ doomed destiny in the match, it was dispelled when McKenzie crossed for an unconverted 45th-minute try which effectively opened a huge 25-point lead.
As the match wound it’s course to the finish, the Stormers staged occasional breaks into the Chiefs’ 22m area, one of which came good when substitute Nizaam Carr scored his side’s third try. Brandon Thomson, the replacement flyhalf goaled the conversion.
Chiefs’ replacement hooker Hikawera Elliot rounded off a late maul to score his side’s sixth try and moments later the shell-shocked Stormers allowed Tevita Koloamatangi in for yet another try.
And just when the home crowd their side has been embarrassed enough Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored try No 8 on the hooter. Mckenzie continued to rub salt into the wounds with his unerring boot to sign off the home side’s humiliation.
Final Score Stormers 21 (14) Chiefs 60 (34)
Tries – V.Koch 2,N.Carr
Con – R.du Preez 2, B.Thomson
Tries – S.McNicol , B.Weber, T.Sanders, J.Lowe, D.McKenzie, H.Elliot, T.Koloamatangi, T. Kerr-Barlow
Pen – D. McKenzie 2
Con – D. McKenzie 7
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1:Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO : Johan Greeff
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger (co-captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Ezebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Nizaam Carr, 22 Louis Schreuder, 23 Brandon Thomson.
1. Kane Hames, 2. Nathan Harris, 3. Atu Moli, 4. Dominic Bird , 5. Brodie Retallick , 6. Taleni Seu , 7. Sam Cane (cc) , 8. Tom Sanders, 9. Brad Weber , 10. Aaron Cruden (cc) , 11. James Lowe , 12. Stephen Donald , 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Sam McNicol , 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements : 16. Hika Elliot , 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi , 18. Mitchell Graham , 19. Tevita Koloamatangi , 20. Lachlan Boshier, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow , 22. Toni Pulu , 23. Shaun Stevenson