The Chiefs have delivered a lesson in intensity to the Stormers, turning on the razzle-dazzle in a 60-21 Super Rugby quarter-final win in Cape Town.
Inspired by 25 points to brilliant fullback Damian McKenzie and a team desire to play at speed, the Chiefs scored eight tries to three to book a semi-final against the top-seeded Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
The other semi-final will pit the Lions against the defending champion Highlanders in Johannesburg next Sunday morning (AEST).
The Stormers hadn’t played against a New Zealand team all season and had little idea how to shut down opponents playing with their trademark flair.
It was the heaviest-ever home defeat for the Stormers while the Chiefs reached 60 points for just the fourth time in their 280-game history.
Halves Brad Weber and Aaron Cruden dictated terms behind a relentless forward pack while outside backs James Lowe and McKenzie were heavily involved, most notably during a purple patch in the first half when they scored four tries in 20 minutes.
Co-captain Cruden praised his side’s willingness to attack.
“We were lucky we got off to a really good start and we were able to keep that tempo going for 80 minutes,” he said.
“We’ve got a young group of guys that are really enjoying each other’s company and each other’s passion out on the field.”
Cruden admitted another long flight ahead of the semi-finals would be a challenge to overcome.
“It’s going to be very tough. We’ll just have to make sure we recover well, give it our all and see what happens.”
Stormers prop Vincent Koch scored at the start and finish of the first half yet they trailed 34-14 at the break after conceding tries to Weber, Lowe, wing Sam McNicol and No.8 Tom Sanders.
McKenzie, who kicked nine of 10 shots at goal, crossed early in the second half after his pack claimed a scrum tighthead to effectively seal the outcome.
Nizaam Carr bagged the Stormers’ third try before three Chiefs reserves – Hika Elliot, Tevita Koloamatangi and Tawera Kerr-Barlow – crossed in the final five minutes.
It was a flat end to the Stormers career of retiring captain Schalk Burger, the long-serving Springboks loose forward.
“There’s not much you can say about that performance. We basically got blown out of the water after 20 minutes. We never stopped trying but it was sort of a horror movie for us out there,” Burger said.
“Sometimes the harder you try, the worse things get.”