May 13, 2018

Gallagher Chiefs secure win over Stormers in Cape Town

The Gallagher Chiefs have got back to winning ways with a hard fought 15-9 win over the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town.

In a game full of errors from both sides, a strong final quarter from the Gallagher Chiefs got them over the line with a decisive penalty try - thanks largely to a dominant scrum - proving to be the difference.

From the outset the Gallagher Chiefs looked eager to spread the ball at pace on a fine afternoon suited to running rugby. The Stormers also showed plenty of endeavour in the opening quarter of an hour with some great entertainment for the fans as the ball stayed in play for long periods.

Eventually the Stormers won a penalty handy to the posts, as the Chiefs were caught offside, and first five Damian Willemse landed the first points of the match to give the home side a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes.

The Chiefs began to show their dominance up front which was providing a good platform for first five Damian McKenzie to direct proceedings, and it was one of his cross-field kicks that led to the first try of the day.

After working their way up to midfield, McKenzie kicked wide into space on the left wing and a favourable bounce saw Solomon Alaimalo gather and then offload in the tackle to centre Anton Lienert-Brown who raced clear to score.

There was nearly a very quick reply from the Stormers after a great kick for touch had given them possession just five metres out, but midfielder Damian de Allende had the ball knocked out of his hands as he dove for the line, thanks to a fine desperation tackle from halfback Brad Weber.

In the final stages of the first half the Stormers enjoyed the better of the territory and possession, forcing the Chiefs to make plenty of tackles, but handling errors let them down.

The Chiefs also had their handling issues throughout the first 40 minutes, which played a big part in the lack of points scored at either end despite lots of attacking play from both sides.

At the end of an entertaining but also frustrating first half, the Chiefs went into the break with a 5-3 lead.

There was more of the same to start the second half, as the fast pace of the match continued but a lack of accuracy stopped either side from getting momentum.

McKenzie had a chance at the 50-minute mark to extend the Chiefs lead but his penalty attempt drifted wide and, not long after the restart, the Stormers then won a penalty themselves which Willemse chipped over to put the home side back in front.

As the match headed past the three-quarter mark, the Chiefs slowly began to ask questions of a tiring Stormers defence and they continued to apply pressure by turning down three consecutive shots at goal - looking for a go ahead try off the back of their strong scrum.

Their persistence was rewarded as referee Mike Fraser lost patience with the Stormers' infringing and a penalty try was given to put the Chiefs up 12-6.

The pace of the game began to take its toll and a flurry of substitutions injected some new energy into the Chiefs effort.

One of those replacements, wing Shaun Stevenson, produced a brilliant chip and chase which saw him go over the line for what looked like the Chiefs third try, but it was ruled out due to a knock on.

With less than five minutes remaining McKenzie then finally kicked his first points of the match with his penalty extending the Chiefs lead to nine, forcing the Stormers to score twice to save the match.

A quick response saw fullback SP Marais cancel out McKenzie's penalty with a three-pointer of his own, and the lead was back to six once more with just two minutes left on the clock.

The Stormers put together 13 phases as time expired to test the visitors one final time, but a ruck penalty was awarded to the Chiefs and McKenzie was able to clear to touch to seal the win.

Gallagher Chiefs 15 (Anton Lienert-Brown try, penalty try, Damian McKenzie pen) Stormers 9 (Damian Willemse 2 pens, SP Marais pen) HT: 5-3.

The Gallagher Chiefs now travel to Durban for the second leg of their South African trip, against the Sharks on Sunday 20 May (1.05am NZ time).