Rugby-Pulu’s scintillating double not enough as Chiefs stumble

Nick Said

CAPE TOWN, April 8 (Reuters) - Waikato Chiefs winger Toni Pulu scored two magical tries but it was not enough to stop them slipping to a first defeat of the Super Rugby season in a thrilling 34-26 loss to the unbeaten Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.

Pulu’s first for the New Zealanders has likely sewn up the Try of the Season award, while wing James Lowe also crossed the line in what was a highly skilful display from the visitors.

South Africa’s Stormers showed heroic defence at times and managed four tries of their own through number eight Sikhumbuzo Notshe, flanker Siya Kolisi, flyhalf Robert du Preez and fullback SP Marais, who also kicked two huge penalties.

The South Africans have now won six games in a row and hold a commanding 17-point lead in their Africa Conference 1.

Notshe put the home team in front with a powerful barge over the line, but then came the moment to light up an enthralled Newlands crowd as the Chiefs swept the length of the field to score with superb handling, sly passes and excellent support play as they bamboozled the home defenders.

Fullback Damian McKenzie started the move that also involved Lowe and was finished by Pulu in a score that will be difficult to beat for inventiveness, skill and daring this season.

The home side then showed great patience to put together 13 phases of play in the Chiefs 22 before Kolisi stretched over to restore their lead.

But the excellent McKenzie was the architect again for a second Pulu try as he skipped past home defenders to race into the Stormers half and set the wing away in the corner.

Marais slotted a long-range penalty and Du Preez rounded off more home pressure with a try on the halftime hooter to send the Stormers into the break leading 24-18.

After the teams had traded penalties, another moment of individual brilliance from Stormers wing Dillyn Leyds gave the Cape Town-based side their fourth try on 52 minutes.

He had gathered a Cheslin Kolbe kick and as he was tackled to the ground, whipped a 10-yard pass behind his back to Marais, who was able to score.

Lowe cantered over shortly afterwards, but Aaron Cruden’s conversion hit the post and the visitors trailed by eight points, a margin they were not able to close in the remaining quarter of the game. (Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

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