Chiefs weather the Storm
The Chiefs weathered a late Stormers fightback to preserve their unbeaten start to the Super 15 season with a 36-20 win at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
The champions outscored the visitors by five tries to two to earn a bonus point, as the Chiefs solidified their place at the head of the New Zealand Conference and climbed to second place overall.
James Lowe, Tom Marshall, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tevita Koloamatangi and Tanerau Latimer ran in the tries for the hosts, while Aaron Cruden kicked their sole penalty.
Gio Aplon and Nizaam Carr touched down and Demetri Catrakilis kicked two penaltie s for the Stormers, who drop to the foot of the South African conference .
Chiefs new boys Marshall, Liam Square and Gareth Anscombe cut a merry chase as they ran the Stormers all around Waikato Stadium in the first half.
They were on the front lines of a Chiefs assault which made a mockery of the Stormers' defensive reputation and ruined their hopes of giving their captain centre Jean de Villiers a game to remember for his 100th appearance.
The Stormers had little chance to impress under the waves of Chiefs attacks. And w hen they did get the ball they found the Chiefs had a defensive intensity of their own.
Catrakilis and Cruden exchanged penalty kicks inside the opening five minutes before the Chiefs crossed for the first try of the game, Lowe earning his reward for some early dashes down the flank as he applied the finishing touch after Schalk Burger had lost the ball on a Stormers' attack.
Tim Nanai-Williams was onto Burger's error in a flash, gathering up the loose ball before leaving Marshall to carry on the break, the move eventually finishing with the ball in the hands of Lowe who crossed in the corner.
Cruden added the extras but the lead was cut to four points when Catrakilis slotted his second penalty.
The Chiefs were looking to move the ball at every opportunity and opened up holes in the vaunted Stormers defences as Lowe, Anscombe, Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam all made effective breaks.
Their running game was rewarded with a second try after the half-time siren, although there was an element of good fortune for Marshall's effort. His pass to Lowe close to the line was knocked back by a Stormers defender but after the Television Match Official was consulted the try was awarded to Marshall, who had fallen on the ball over the line.
That gave the hosts a 17-6 half-time lead and any h opes the Stormers may have had of getting back into the game quickly after the resumption were quelled almost before they had started as Nanai-Williams' off-load was taken by Kerr-Barlow who scored beneath the posts.
Leading 24-6 the Chiefs looked comfortable but a piece of individual brilliance from three-quarter Aplon sparked a late run from the Stormers that would see them close to within four points.
With 62 minutes gone, Aplon broke inside Nanai-Williams, fended off Cruden and raced in for a superb solo try, while just minutes later Carr drove over as the Stormers got back to 20-24.
However, the Chiefs hit back with a fourth try for Koloamatangi before the bonus point was secured late on as Latimer scored from a rolling maul.