Super Rugby: Chiefs unbeaten as Stormers go down

By Kris Shannon

2 comments
The Chiefs' James Lowe FILE
The Chiefs' James Lowe FILE

Chiefs 36
Stormers 20

The Chiefs remain unbeaten atop the New Zealand Conference and, if they can put together their whole package, that record will be hard to break.

The defending champions showed flashes of the attacking flair that brought a second title last season, beating the Stormers 36-20 at Waikato Stadium tonight.

Another test arrives next week, with a trip to the Republic preceded by a stopover in Perth, but the Chiefs have passed every test presented so far this season.

It was a staunch defence that defeated the Crusaders, before patience and level heads proved too much for the Highlanders. Tonight, the Stormers' proud defence was put to death through a thousand cuts.

Before a final quarter that featured more parity, the match was played in a familiar pattern.

The two teams engaged in an intriguing tactical battle, with last year's best attack probing in search of passage through the best defence.


The Stormers pride themselves on confounding opposition attempts to break them down and, in anticipation of that challenge, the Chiefs looked like they had spent much of the bye week seeking a solution.

Much of the home side's success revolved around a varied attack, with a willingness to spread the ball wide, especially to the left, complemented by countless passes popped up a moment before the tackle.

It was a high-risk strategy but one required as the Stormers scrambled well in defence, showing the tenacity the Crusaders encountered last week. But the Chiefs eventually found their way through, with their backline producing enough moments of brilliance to provide a healthy lead they eventually needed.

The Tasman combination of James Lowe and Tom Marshall both scored deserved tries in their first starts, while Liam Squire also impressed at No 8. And to complete an eventful night for the Makos, Tevita Koloomatangi came off the bench to earn the bonus point and clinch a game the Chiefs controlled throughout.

The Stormers bent without breaking for most the opening spell and were perhaps unlucky to leak two tries, with Marshall the benefactor of a bit of fortune on both occasions. First, some unintentionally fancy footwork rewarded his attacking endeavour, collecting a bobble off his own boot before unleashing Lowe.

Then, on the stroke of halftime, the Chiefs tried their luck after the hooter and Marshall dotted down after his attempted pass was batted into the in-goal.

If fortune aided their 11-point lead at halftime, it was pure skill that saw the Chiefs add to their advantage immediately after the break, with a miracle pass from Tim Nanai-Williams allowing Kerr-Barlow to stroll under the posts.

The Stomers were continually stuck playing without the ball in the second spell but, when they did get their hands on some pill, the Chiefs' defence continued the capability they showed before the bye.

It must have been frustrating for the Stormers to put together phases without finding any forward momentum and that frustration began to show as the clock wound down.

Silly errors crept into the Stormers' game but, just when the match seemed decided, Gio Aplon finally breached the Chiefs' line. And all the hosts' good work was in danger of being undone when Nizaam Carr crossed to bring the Stormers within four, before late tries from Koloomatangi and Tanerau Latimer in his 100th Super Rugby game added a flourish.

Chiefs 36 (Lowe, Marshall, Kerr-Barlow, Koloomatangi, Latimer tries; Cruden pen, 4 cons)

Stormers 20 (Aplon, Carr tries; Catrakilis 2 pens, 2 cons)

HT: 17-6

- APNZ

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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