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.
“We were pretty lucky to still be in the game at halftime,” Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore said. “We defended pretty well and had 14 men for 20 minutes, so the message at halftime was to get out there and have some fun because we had nothing to lose and I’m pretty happy with that.”
Cruden slotted his second penalty early in the second half, then converted center Conrad Smith’s 51st minute try to give the Hurricanes a 13-5 lead, before Australia flyhalf Matt Giteau scored his side’s second try.
Kaplan then sin binned his third player when replacement Brumbies hooker Huia Edmonds was shown a yellow card for a tackle indiscretion in the 64th minute and Cruden slotted his third penalty, though Giteau replied three minutes later.
Hurricanes flanker Victor Vito then pounced on a loose ball from a knock-down of a Tamati Ellison pass by Adam Ashley-Cooper and sprinted over for an opportunist try to give the Hurricanes the 23-13 lead with six minutes remaining.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
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’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two