Storm­ers blast through Chiefs with skill

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­

The mo­ment that told you ev­ery­thing about the Storm­ers’ ti­tle cre­den­tials in this year’s Su­per Rugby sea­son came in the 52nd minute of this ab­so­lute stonker of a game.

The Chiefs were on the at­tack and wee Ch­es­lin Kolbe in­ter­cepted and hacked ahead be­fore the sim­i­larly slight fig­ure of Dil­lyn Leyds set off in pur­suit of the loose ball.

Once there, he lost his bal­ance, but then he threw a mir­a­cle pass – a no-look re­verse ef­fort while sit­ting on his back­side – and it fell per­fectly into ad­vanc­ing full­back SP Marais’ hands to can­ter in.

Up un­til then, the Storm­ers had re­lied on heavy-handed an­tics up front while their vis­i­tors daz­zled at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

But that bit of gold dust proved the hosts have the ap­pli­ca­tion, de­sire and, most im­por­tantly, the nec­es­sary skill of ti­tle con­tenders.

The re­sult was that they con­signed the Chiefs to their first de­feat of the sea­son, them­selves re­main­ing un­beaten af­ter six games to lead Africa Con­fer­ence 1 by a whop­ping 17 points.

There was no short­age of per­form­ers in a team ef­fort – Kolbe, Marais, Robert du Preez and any num­ber of for­wards – but it was cap­tain Siya Kolisi’s worka­holic na­ture that epit­o­mised the ef­fort.

There was a push and shove fest in the open­ing minute as Liam Mes­sam mouthed off like an an­gry warthog, and as rookie flanker Cobus Wiese got him­self sin-binned.

Thank­fully, the game it­self didn’t de­scend into a typ­i­cally scrappy derby. The col­li­sions were of car­wreck pro­por­tions and the tempo brought to the match by the vis­i­tors was not only fright­en­ing, it also frac­tured the hosts’ de­fen­sive struc­tures.

From early on, it be­came ap­par­ent that the game would be played along two ba­sic lines – the Storm­ers’ for­wards and the Chiefs’ quick­sil­ver backs – as the five tries scored in the first half alone showed.

All three of the Storm­ers’ ef­forts, by eighth­man Sikhum­buzo Not­she, Kolisi and fly half Du Preez were essen­tially borne of pick­ing and driv­ing.

In con­trast, the Chiefs scored their first five-pointer by run­ning the ball through a maze of deft off­loads – nine, to be ex­act – af­ter field­ing a kick just 5m from their own try line for wing Toni Pulu to score.

Mean­while, the South­ern Kings and the Chee­tahs may be ev­ery­one’s favourites to bite the dust when San­zar an­nounces its de­ci­sion to cull two South African teams and one Aus­tralian team from Su­per Rugby to­day, but SA Rugby still has to go through a process to de­cide who ac­tu­ally loses out.

The state­ment South African and Aus­tralian rugby has been dread­ing came out yes­ter­day, say­ing that San­zar chief ex­ec­u­tive Andy Mari­nos would make a Su­per Rugby-re­lated an­nounce­ment this morn­ing af­ter the con­clu­sion of the Western Force and South­ern Kings’ fix­ture – about 10am.

An SA Rugby in­sider, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, con­firmed that the state­ment would be about how many teams from each coun­try would miss out on the com­pe­ti­tion next year, in keep­ing with San­zar’s res­o­lu­tion to trim the 18-team com­pe­ti­tion by three fran­chises.

But while the Kings and the Chee­tahs may lose out be­cause of a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing non­per­for­mance, lack of crowd at­ten­dances and not re­ally es­tab­lish­ing a mar­ket for them­selves, an­other SA Rugby of­fi­cial, who also spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said it wasn’t that cut and dried.

“We have a fran­chise meet­ing on Tues­day, so we’ll start work­ing on it then,” he said.


GO­ING DOWN Dan du Plessis of the Storm­ers is tack­led by Aaron Cru­den of the Chiefs dur­ing their Su­per Rugby match at New­lands, Cape Town, yes­ter­day

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