Chiefs beat Stormers to join Lions, Crusaders and Hurricanes in Super Rugby semi-finals

22 July 2017 - 19:23
By CRAIG RAY at Newlands
Dillyn Leyds of the Stormers during the Super Rugby Quarter final against Chiefs at DHL Newlands on July 22, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images Dillyn Leyds of the Stormers during the Super Rugby Quarter final against Chiefs at DHL Newlands on July 22, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Chiefs eliminated the Stormers from Super Rugby for a second year running, but this time it went down to the wire and required a late try to settle the matter.

Chiefs wing Shaun Stevenson dotted down in the 76th minute after a patient Chiefs build-up and a lovely, wafted pass from flyhalf Aaron Cruden, to put daylight between the sides with seconds on the clock.

The home team couldn't break the resolute Chiefs defense in the final, agonizing three minutes and slumped to a 17-11 loss against a team that has only lost two games all year.

The Stormers are a much-improved side from last year but they are still short of the top tier in the competition.

But there was no shame in this defeat, unlike last year’s 60-21 drubbing at the same stage.

Until Stevenson’s strike it was the home side that had scored the only try of the match. Captain Siya Kolisi crashed over in the corner early in the second half to narrow 9-3 halftime deficit to a point, which underlined how tight the match was.

The Chiefs even survived a sin-binning for captain Sam Cane midway through the second half for his high tackle on Dillyn Leyds, only conceding three points while he was off.

The Lions are now South Africa’s sole survivors in the tournament and will play the Hurricanes at Ellis Park next week while the Chiefs return to New Zealand to face the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Ill-discipline at crucial time from the Stormers proved to be the difference in the final analysis. The Stormers conceded three penalties and nine points in final 10 minutes of the first half and that shifted the momentum the way of the Chiefs after they a bright start from the home team.

Fullback Damian McKenzie coolly slotted those kicks to give the visitors a halftime lead in a match that was on a knife’s edge throughout.

The Stormers’ promised line speed was evident from the start. Kolisi led the way with a wonderfully timed hit on lock Brodie Retallick.

As statements of intent go, it was unequivocal. There would be no repeat of last year’s quarterfinal embarrassment when the Chiefs scored eight tries.

The pattern of stoic defence continued with neither side able to make more than a few stolen metres here on there on attack.

The only significant line break was when veteran centre Stephen Donald broke out from inside his own 22-metre area from a restart after McKenzie’s first penalty.

It caught everyone by surprise, including Donald’s own teammates, who were unable to offer support when he was closed down.

The Chiefs were more adept with the boot. Departing flyhalf Cruden probed and turned the Stormers with guile while the Stormers relied mostly on scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage for tactical direction, which wasn’t always as clinical.

There were few clear chances in the match as neither side gave an inch on defence.

It was a disappointing end to the Stormers’ campaign, but sober analysis will show a team that is on an upward trajectory.

 - TimesLIVE