Chiefs blow Stormers away
MATCH REPORT: The Chiefs showed their superior skill and class when they recorded a 60-21 win over the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
The result means the Chiefs will travel back to New Zealand to meet the Hurricanes in one semifinal, while the Highlanders will head in the other direction over the Indian Ocean to face the Lions in the second semifinal in Johannesburg.
The last-four pairings raise the possibility of a second successive Hurricanes-Highlanders Super Rugby decider in Wellington.
The Stormers were outclassed in all aspects, but the scrums.
However, the key aspect is that the game showed up that the Stormers were badly undercooked in terms of intensity and the speed of the game - having played in the weaker conference and facing only weak Australian teams.
It was a scintillating eight-try show from the New Zealand visitors.
"That was a horror movie," confessed veteran Stormers skipper and loose forward Schalk Burger, playing his last game at Newlands stadium before joining English club Saracens.
Trailing by four points after prop Vincent Koch barged over for an early try, Chiefs responded with two tries within four minutes en route to a 34-14 half-time lead.
Any hopes of a comeback by the hosts were dashed just six minutes into the second half when fullback and Damian McKenzie scored a fifth try for the Kiwis.
A try by replacement loose forward Nizaam Carr narrowed the gap to 18 points seven minutes from time only for the New Zealanders to cross the try-line three more times.
If 25-point McKenzie was the outstanding individual for twice former champions Chiefs, skipper and flyhalf Aaron Cruden emphasised the team effort.
"This was an exceptional team effort," stressed the All Black.
"A really good performance after coming all the way from Dunedin to play here.
"Those two tries that built an early lead set the tone and we never slackened. Our boys put their bodies on the line to prevent the Stormers scoring for much of the second half.
"We have a young team who enjoy the game and play with passion. That was very evident here.
"The boys prepared well and now we must do so again before facing the Hurricanes. All I can promise is that we will give our all."
Burger said: "Let us give credit to Chiefs for blowing us out of the water. It seemed like the harder we tried the worse it got.
"I feel sorry for our wonderful supporters -- some harsh lessons were learnt out there tonight," added the 2007 Rugby World Cup winner with the Springboks.
Sam McNicol, Brad Weber, Tom Sanders, James Lowe, McKenzie, Hikawera Elliot, Tevita Koloamatangi and Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored tries for Chiefs.
McKenzie kicked seven conversions and two penalties from 10 shots at goal to lie second on the leading scorers' chart, just three points behind Hurricanes' Beauden Barrett.
Vincent Koch scored two tries and Nizaam Carr one for Stormers and Robert du Preez kicked two conversions and Brandon Thomson one.
Man of the match: Schalk Burger tried his heart out, but a times he looked like a lone ranger. There was some good intent from other Stormers, but execution was shocking. You can out almost the entire Chiefs team forward, especially those skilful backs - like Sam McNicol, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe and Brad Weber. However, it was the creative ability of Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie - who had a hand in several of their tries - that stood out above all.
Moment of the match: You can pick anyone of the Chiefs' tries - for the sublime skill involved - but the Sam McNicol score in the 14th minute spelled the beginning of the end for a Stormers team that was hopelessly outclassed.
Villain of the match: Physical, perhaps even brutal at times, but no real villains.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Koch 2, Carr
Cons: Du Preez 2, Thomson
For the Chiefs:
Tries: McNicholl, Weber, Sanders, Lowe, McKensie, Elliot, Koloamatangi, Ker-Barlow
Cons: McKenzie 7(8tries, 7cons, 2pens)
Pens: McKenzie 2
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger (co-captain), 7 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 John Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Nizaam Carr, 22 Louis Schreuder, 23 Brandon Thomson.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sam McNicol, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Brad Weber, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Tevita Koloamatangi, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Toni Pulu, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)