The Western Stormers steamrollered the fast-fading Waikato Chiefs 49-15 yesterday in a six-try romp that took the South African outfit to the top of the Super 14 standings.
The Stormers have the best defensive record this season and they proved their attacking credentials against the Chiefs, who scored two tries in reply.
The South African side’s forwards out-muscled their opponents, with captain Schalk Burger and giant lock Andries Bekker also running rampant in open play alongside a slick backline.
After winning their first three games of the season, the Chiefs have tumbled to their fifth loss from nine games, and were unable to retain possession for long periods because of poor handling and speculative passing.
Coming off a morale-boosting 33-21 win against the Auckland Blues last week, the Stormers picked up where they left off to secure their seventh win from nine games.
“It’s tough to go back-to-back [with consecutive wins] in this competition, but we managed to do it, so a pretty awesome week,” Burger said. “The big thing is we’ve concentrated on accuracy and our structure, and we’ve pitched up these two weeks and shown we can score some points.”
The first 30 minutes belonged to the Stormers, who played with great composure from the opening whistle, as opposed to the more erratic home side.
A brilliant try after 22 minutes that covered at least 80m and went through nine sets of hands was a just reward for the Stormers’ pressure.
Flanker Burger featured twice in the movement, which started with a break by fullback Gio Aplon, another standout performer.
The fullback featured again in the second try after bursting around two tacklers to release No. 8 Duane Vermeulen for a sprint to the line.
A last-gasp try in the spell by Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer reduced the difference to 20-10 at halftime. No. 8 Sione Lauaki made the try, breaking from the back of a scrum in the Stormers 22 and fending off Burger, before slipping a great little offload to Latimer.
The Stormers bounced back quickly in the second half, however, with a try to roving hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and stretched their lead further with touchdowns to winger Sireli Naqelevuki, Bekker and replacement hooker Deon Fourie.
Waikato Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams deftly avoided being bundled into touch to score after 68 minutes, but the game was well out of reach by then.
Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant kicked four conversions and three penalties, while Stephen Donald kicked five points for the Chiefs.
HURRICANES 23, BRUMBIES 13
The Wellington Hurricanes kept their slim Super 14 semi-final chances alive with an improbable 23-13 victory over the ACT Brumbies in their Super 14 match in Canberra yesterday.
The Brumbies completely dominated possession and territory, while Hurricanes flyhalf Aaron Cruden missed three kickable penalties for the visitors, who stayed in the game through superb defense and far too many handling errors from the Brumbies.
The Hurricanes were also heavily penalized early on by referee Jonathan Kaplan, with flanker Nick Crosswell and scrumhalf Tyson Keats both spending 10 minutes in the sin bin to leave them with 14 men for 20 minutes of the first half.
The Hurricanes’ defense, however, managed to withstand wave after wave of Brumbies’ attack while a man down, with the home side able to score only a try to scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs when Keats was off the field.