Reigning Super XV champions the Waikato Chiefs demolished the Western Stormers 36-20 yesterday to maintain an unbeaten record and show they are not going to relinquish their title easily.
The New Zealanders ran in five tries to two for a bonus point win in which they ran the Western Stormers’ vaunted defense ragged.
The score would have been even more lop-sided, but Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers ran down Gareth Anscombe late in the match to stop a certain try.
De Villiers was in no mood to celebrate playing his 100th Super Rugby game.
“We didn’t play well, it was obviously not the result we wanted,” De Villiers said. “We did show heart at some stages of the game, but at the end it was pretty disappointing. The Chiefs put us under a lot of pressure, there’s a reason they’ve been champions for the last two years.”
The Chiefs adopted a kicking game to try to breach the Stormers’ defensive line and the tactic paid dividends when Tom Marshall’s chip set up James Lowe for the opening try.
The second came after the halftime siren and followed a period of patient buildup play when the Chiefs worked the ball forward for Marshall to score in the corner.
The South Africans were convinced Marshall knocked-on before grounding the ball, but replays showed a Stormer had knocked it back, so the five-pointer stood, with Aaron Cruden adding the conversion.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow made it three immediately after the restart when Matt Symons charged down a kick and sparked an attack that saw the winger dot down between the posts, blowing out the lead to 24-6.
The Stormers clawed one back when winger Gio Aplon went on jinking run with 20 minutes to go, then Nizaam Carr’s effort narrowed the gap to four points in the 74th minute, but hopes of an unlikely comeback were snuffed out when Tevita Koloamatangi drove over the line, followed two minutes later by Tanerau Latimer, who was also marking his 100th Super Rugby game.
The flanker marked the occasion by waving away Cruden and attempting to convert his own try, hooking his kick well wide of the posts to end the match.