South Africa’s Stormers have stamped their title credentials on the Super 14 by destroying the Waikato Chiefs 49-15 in Hamilton on Friday evening.
The Stormers, led by Springboks flanker Schalk Burger, ruthlessly dismantled the Chiefs with a simple and perfectly executed game plan that produced six tries, all of which were the result of superb interplay between backs and forwards.
The victory moved the Stormers to the top of the table with 33 points. Fellow South African side the Bulls also have 33 points and play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
“We lost to the Force (two weeks ago) and we have really concentrated on our accuracy and structure and we have really pitched up,” Burger said in a televised interview.
The Stormers raced to a 20-3 lead courtesy of two Peter Grant penalties and converted tries to Bryan Habana, who finished off a sweeping move from deep inside his own half, and Duane Vermuelen, who crossed after full-back Gio Aplon’s 40-metre burst.
The Chiefs managed to fight back in the final 10 minutes of the first half and were rewarded when number eight Sione Lauaki burst away from a backpedalling scrum and fed openside flanker Tanerau Latimer, who scored under the posts.
Stephen Donald converted Latimer’s try to add to his earlier penalty and reduced the deficit to 20-10 at the break.
However, the Stormers did not let the Chiefs build more momentum and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg crossed three minutes after the break following superb rampaging bursts by lock Andries Bekker and Burger.
Winger Sireli Naqelevuki secured the bonus point with the team’s fourth try, while Bekker scored the fifth to put the game beyond any doubt after a superb rolling maul.
Waikato full-back Tim Nanai-Williams scored a well-deserved individual consolation try before replacement hooker Deon Fourie rubbed salt into the Chiefs’ wounds when he pounced on a dropped ball to score virtually unopposed.
“It was a tough night. The Stormers were on fire and we had no answer,” Chiefs captain Liam Messam said.
“The Stormers just kept coming at us and … they’re a very good side.”
Stormers: 49 (B Habana, D Vermeulen, T Liebenberg, S Naqelevuki, A Bekker, D Fourie tries; P Grant 4 conversions, 3 penalties; W de Waal conversion)
Chiefs: 15 (T Latimer, T Nanai-Williams tries; S Donald penalty, conversion)