Stormers fall to the Chiefs
The Stormers had a terrible sense of déjà vu when they lost a Super Rugby quarterfinal to the Chiefs for the second season running at Newlands last night. While the game against the New Zealand side was a hard-fought affair in which the final score was light years better than the 60-21 thrashing from last year, it was scant consolation for the Stormers, even though it showed that they were clearly maturing as a team.
If there is a criticism of how the hosts played, it would be their failure to capitalise on a period during which the visitors had captain Sam Cane in the sin bin, a period in which they only scored three points.
But the visitors deserve credit for the way they approached the game by holding back at first like most away teams do, striking when they had the opportunities and closing the game down when the Stormers made a desperate final run for the spoils.
The result means the semifinals line-up features no less than three New Zealand teams, with the Chiefs going back home to play against the Crusaders in Christchurch and the Lions at home to the Hurricanes.
Like all self-respecting knockout games, the first half was a tight affair in which both sidces hardly ever looked like scoring a try, the scoreline at the end of the 40 minutes a Six Nations-like 9-3 to the visitors.
The main reason for this was the two sides’ defences, which were effective for different reasons. The Chiefs
relied on line speed, which rushed the Stormers on the ball, which meant they were forcing passes in contact or simply coughing up possession.
The Stormers’ patience was also evident in attack in the second half, where the Chiefs defence finally blinked and they scored the first try of the game – by captain Siya Kolisi in the 45th minute – after unerringly grinding through one pick and go after another.
But a sign of how tight things were on the day was how the Stormers did little to punish the Chiefs when their captain Sam Cane was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Dillyn Leyds. All the Stormers got from the 10 minutes Cane was in the cooler was the three points from the penalty.
CAPE OF STORMS Solomon Alaimalo of the Chiefs tackled by Pieter-Steph du Toit of the Stormers and Oli Kebble in last night’s Super Rugby quarterfinal match at the DHL Newlands Stadium