The unbeaten Chiefs celebrated Tanerau Latimer's 100th Super Rugby game with a 36-20 win over the Stormers at Waikato Stadium last night.
Latimer brought the house down with a last second try that made the night a special one for the man from Te Puke.
Off-loading in contact and bringing back their traditional flair were the keys to the Chiefs entertaining performance. They showed why they are two-time defending champions with a high octane performance to concern the other 14 teams, despite a late comeback from the Stormers.
Bay of Plenty forwards Latimer and fit-again Brodie Retallick were into everything and reveled in the physical encounters with the big South African pack.
After swapping penalties, Tom Marshall on debut for the Chiefs put impressive left winger James Lowe away for a run to the corner. Cruden slotted the conversion to put the Chiefs up 10-3 after 18 minutes.
The Chiefs cut the Stormers to bits in the final play of the first half and a try was awarded to Marshall after TMO Ben Skeen looked favourably at some inconclusive replays.
Cruden kicked a superb goal for a deserved 17-6 lead on the balance of play.
The second stanza started with a sparkling try to the Chiefs from the kick-off which Tawera Kerr Barlow scored after some special play from livewire winger Tim Nanai-Williams.
Up 24-6 the Chiefs should have put the Stormers away but wasted numerous try chances.
Then Gio Aplon showed blinding pace from 52 metres out to score a stunner to close the gap to 24-13. The Stormers were rampant and when replacement Nizaam Kahn scored, with Peter Grant's conversion, the Chiefs led just 24-20 with four minutes left.
But then replacement Tevita Koloamatangi showed great strength to score the match winner and a bonus point before Latimer's memorable finish.
Chiefs 36 (James Lowe, Tom Marshall, Tim Nanai-Williams, Tevita Koloamatangi, Tanerau Latimer tries; Aaron Cruden 4 cons, pen) Stormers 20 (Gio Aplin, Nizaam Kahn tries; Peter Grant 2 cons; Demetri Catrakilis 2 pens;