Stormers end the Chiefs' run
Stormers end the Chiefs' runSHARE
The Stormers won their first match of the season and also handed the defending champion Chiefs their first defeat of 2013, with a heart-stopping 36-34 triumph at Newlands on Saturday.
Despite outscoring the Stormers by four tries to three – which handed the visitors two bonus points – the home team relied on the boot of Joe Pietersen and their famous defence to win the day.
This was more of a conflict than a match.
The charging was relentless tackles were harsh and the post tackle hand-to-hand fighting. It was a war and no place for the faint of heart.
At the heart of the conflict were the Stormers. Their charges had a bit more power and their tackles were harder. But they could not match the Chiefs' backs for the slickness of their handling, their sleight of hand as the match brought them four tries to the Stormers' three and a bonus point to add to the one for being close losers.
For the Stormers, in front of 37 178 spectators, it was their first win of 2013 Super Rugby after defeats at the hands of the Bulls and the Sharks. For them this was a satisfying result. For the Chiefs, 2012 champions, this was their first defeat after two victories over the Highlanders and the Cheetahs. For them it was a disappointing result.
Ill-discipline cost the Chiefs dearly – 12 penalties (against seven) and two yellow cards. Some of it was silly. If you play a man without the ball to stop him from going about his legal business and you do it three times, a yellow card is not farfetched. If an important weapon against mauling is illegal and you do it three times, you are being suicidally silly.
The first penalty against the Chiefs was for a maul infringement – by three players, Craig Clarke, Ben Afeaki and Mahonri Schwalger. Joe Pietersen goaled. 3-0 after 2 minutes.
The Stormers were playing with great zest. From a line-out on their left, they went far right. Andries Bekker and Duane Vermeulen were close and then Elton Jantjies gave a wonderful little pass to Gio Aplon as he cut in off his wing. 10-0 after 8 minutes.
Gareth Anscombe goaled a penalty, against Nic Groom, and Pietersen a second, against Brodie Retallick this time, to make it 13-3 after 16 minutes. The Stormers looked well in control.
But after Pietersen's penalty, the Chiefs kicked off high and Pietersen knocked it grossly on. The Chiefs grabbed the gift and attacked. Going right Aaron Cruden slipped a grubber into the Stormers' in-goal and Charlie Ngatai beat Jantjies in a dive for the ball. 16-10.
The Stormers used Bekker a great deal in midfield and to great effect. The sight of the huge man racing over 20 metres downfield was thrilling. Tawera Kerr-Barlow was penalised at a tackle and sent to the sin bin. Pietersen made it 19-10. And then Cruden made another sweet try.
There were few scrums in the match – eight in all, the first after 28 minutes. The first for the Chiefs came after 35 minutes, on their left. With Kerr-Barlow off, Cruden put the ball into the scrum. It fell down but the ball came out, and Liam Messam played it to Cruden on his right. Cruden pushed a short grubber behind the Stormers' backs and Tim Nanai-Williams cut back, gathered and scored. If he had not scored two other Chiefs could have, such was the perfection of the kick. 19-17 after 36 minutes.
Deep in his own territory Cruden tried another grubber but hard-man Rynhardt Elstadt blocked the kick with his foot and then flykicked it down into the Chiefs' in-goal where Aplon dived on the ball near the posts. 26-17 after 38 minutes.
The Stormers nearly scored again before half-time after Messam had knocked on a high kick. The Stormers worked an overlap for Aplon but he could not hold the difficult pass.
The Chiefs scored first in the second half when the Stormers were penalised for obstruction at a maul and Anscombe, who – surprise, surprise – had missed a kick at goal, goaled this one. 26-20 after 46 minutes.
Then the Stormers attacked. First Bryan Habana was close in the left corner and then a chip by Jean de Villiers forced the Chiefs to yield a line-out on the Stormers' right. They attacked and Siya Kolisi, Tiaan Leibenberg – on for Elstadt but at hooker with Deon Fourie on the flank – and then Bekker took it in turns to be close. Groom took it a step further when he scored. 33-20 after 53 minutes.
Soon afterwards Habana was injured and taken off on a mobile stretcher.
From a line-out on their left, the Chiefs went wide right and then came back left. Nanai-Williams skipped to draw in De Villiers and give Anscombe a hole to run through. The fullback swerved inside Groom and then gave the ball to Ngatai who scored under the posts. 33-27 after 57 minutes.
The Stormers went on the attack and it seemed a miracle that Kolisi, too upright, did not score in the right corner. They worked their way along the Chiefs' line with Peter Grant and Kolisi close till the Chiefs' halfbacks were penalised and Pietersen goaled. 36-27 after 61 minutes. The Chiefs got off lightly in this attack.
The Stormers attacked again as Damian D' Allende broke. But back came the Chiefs with their array of subtle passes – right, left and then right again as Andrew Horrell dived over right in the corner. Anscombe converted. 36-34 with eight minutes to go.
The Chiefs attacked, the Stormers attacked. The Stormers had an attacking line-out but lost the only line-out of theirs on the evening. (They stole four off the Chiefs.) A penalty gave the Chiefs an attacking line-out but Bekker won it. The Stormers kicked out. The Chiefs won the line-out and climbed into the Stormers but were penalised.
Man of the Match: Andries Bekker. He ruled the line-outs, he threatened in midfield, he tackled, he was wonderful.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Aplon 2, Groom
Cons: Pietersen 3
Pens: Pietersen 5
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Ngatai 2, Nanai-Williams, Horrell
Cons: Anscombe 4
Pens: Anscombe 2
Yellow cards: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs, 32 – repeated infringements at the breakdown), Nick Crosswell (Chiefs, 74 – repeated infringements at the tackle)
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)