Chiefs edge Stormers in Cape Town
MATCH REPORT: The Chiefs edged the Stormers 17-11 in a tense Super Rugby quarterfinal at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Shaun Stevenson scored a simple try four minutes from time to seal the victory for the Chiefs.
The substitute wing gathered a long, perfectly weighted skip pass from skipper and flyhalf Aaron Cruden to cross the line unopposed at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.
Although fullback Damian McKenzie failed to convert - his lone failure in five shots at goal - the north island outfit survived some late pressure for a deserved if dour victory.
The reward for the Chiefs is an away semifinal against fellow New Zealanders and record seven-time champions Crusaders in Christchurch next weekend.
The Lions host defending champions the Hurricanes in the other semifinal, which is a repeat of the 2016 Final.
The Crusaders beat the Highlanders 17-0 in a south island derby, Lions edged fellow South Africans the Sharks 23-21 and Hurricanes blew away Brumbies 35-16 in Australia.
"It was not the prettiest of matches," conceded Cruden, "but we would much rather win an ugly game than lose a pretty one.
"I am proud of the boys for a massive effort - they put their bodies on the line from the first minute to the last.
"We are a team of warriors with a clear game plan that we try to execute whenever and wherever we play.
"The Crusaders in Christchurch is going to be a tough test, but we can beat any Super Rugby team anywhere on our day."
Stormers skipper and flank Siyamthanda Kolisi lamented some basic errors in a rematch of a 2016 quarterfinal won 60-21 by the Chiefs in Cape Town.
"We did not lose to the Chiefs - we lost to ourselves. A few individual errors cost us the match.
"I am proud of the youngsters in the team, who raised their hands and did not stand back against a great Chiefs team."
The first half developed into a penalty-kicking contest between rivals fullbacks McKenzie and Sarel Marais, which the New Zealander won 3-1 for a 9-3 half-time advantage.
Stormers cut the deficit to a single point on 45 minutes when Kolisi dived over in the corner after sustained pressure.
McKenzie slotted his fourth penalty before Chiefs flank Sam Cane was sin-binned on the hour having dangerously tackled wing Dillyn Leyds.
However, the numerical advantage yielded only three points for the South Africans off a second Marais penalty.
Twice champions Chiefs retained a 12-11 lead for 13 minutes before Stevenson scored one of the softest tries of his career, and one of the most important.
Man of the match: Siyamthanda Kolis had another strong game for the Stormers, while Sarel Marais was solid at the back in the No.15 jersey. Fullback Damian McKenzie scored 12 points with his accurate boot. However, the award goes to Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden for his game management throughout the 80 minutes.
Pens: Marais 2
Pens: McKenzie 4
Yellow card: Sam Cane (Chiefs, 60 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vice-captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Seabelo Senatla, 23 Juan de Jongh.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Quinton Immelman
TMO: Johan Greeff