The Chiefs are no longer unbeaten - and the genuine title threats in Super Rugby no longer reside only in New Zealand.

Those two conclusions came out of a titanic tussle between two unbeaten teams in Cape Town this morning, a match deservedly claimed by a Stormers side who proved their magical start this season was no illusion.

The South African side - who, along with the Lions, seem to represent the main contenders to the Kiwi conference hegemony - absorbed some scintillating rugby from the Chiefs and emerged on top thanks to some impressively expansive play of their own.

They may have in earlier weeks beaten up largely on the competition battlers but, facing a team who destroyed them 60-21 the last time they met, the Stormers illustrated their own calibre and earned revenge in some style.

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The Chiefs were warned early and often this was going to be nowhere near as straightforward as last year's quarter-final. This vintage of Stormers had little in common with the side who wilted nine months ago, today showing great patience in possession and stretching the opposition defence through sheer persistence.

Their forwards were predictably physical and the set piece, as advertised, provided a strong base, enabling the Stormers to score three first-half tries against a team who had entered the contest having conceded only six.

It meant the Chiefs were forced to spend much of the first 40 minutes without the ball but, when they did get their hands on some scraps, they exploded in a manner very reminiscent to the last clash between these teams.

Damian McKenzie was a particular menace at fullback, playing a huge role in the pair of Toni Pulu tries that kept the Chiefs in touch. But the youngster was a mere reflection of a team who attacked with a level of quality that would have thrilled the fans at Newlands as much as any Chiefs supporters who set the alarm early back home.

Pulu's first try was a length-of-the-field masterpiece, featuring exemplary support play and a flawless skillset that few sides in the competition could possibly match, with James Lowe and Liam Messam especially outstanding while trading passes down the left touchline.

The second was all about McKenzie and would have left the Stormers wary of the aimless kicking that enabled such a lethal counter-attack. But the home side showed early in the second half they were capable of launching some spectacular counters of their own, continuing to pierce the suddenly porous Chiefs defence and taking command with a cracking try from SP Marais.

ROTORUA DAILY POST | Sport
8 Apr, 2017 9:51am
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The Stormers were also being aided by their opponents' errors, as if the visitors had depleted their stockpile of the spectacular in the first half. Handling became sloppy and field position was squandered, allowing the South African side to defend their lead by attacking within their limitations and kicking cannily when required.

And while the Chiefs did eventually rediscover some of their spark, crossing through James Lowe and threatening with a few more half-breaks, the Stormers were now demonstrating their defensive mettle, bending without breaking and hanging on to complete a rousing win.

Stormers 34 (S. Notshe, S. Kolisi, R. du Preez, SP Marais tries, R. du Preez 4 cons, SP Marais 2 pens)
Chiefs 26 (T. Pulu 2, J. Lowe tries; A. Cruden 2 pens, con, D. McKenzie pen)
Halftime: 24-18