The Stormers took a giant step towards the Super 14 semi-finals with a scintillating 49-15 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.
The defeat spells the end of the Chiefs' campaign, after it had started so brightly with the away wins in the Republic. It's mildly ironic that it should have gone so woefully off the rails against South Africa's tourists. The injuries to the squad have not helped, but neither did the looseness of the Chiefs' play that gifted three of the Stormers' tries to them.
The other three tries were superb. For the first part of this tournament the Stormers were the dullest side out there, but the shackles have come off since they went on tour. There were two end-to-end tries here, two or three similar opportunities that went begging and any number of side-to-side handling movements and interplays. At times, it was just brilliant.
Right from the start, the Chiefs did not look on their game. In the first ten minutes alone, twice they lost ball by simply chucking it around and hoping it would stick. By contrast the visitors stayed patient and built slowly through the phases. The patience was rarely tested.
Peter Grant gave the Stormers the lead with a penalty after 11 minutes, moments after Sereli Naqelevuki had nearly made it to the line following a switch with Gio Aplon. Naqelevuki was trying to offload it when he knocked on, had he managed it the early damage could have been far worse.
The penalty count against the hosts was mounting though. Grant hit his second just to the left of the uprights before a rare foray into Stormers territory from the Chiefs gave Stephen Donald a chance to tie the game up from the tee after Francois Louw had put his hand in a ruck.
Almost immediately, the Stormers threatened the Chiefs line again, with only a midfield obstruction preventing Schalk Burger from scoring the first try. Instead it was left to Grant to give his side the lead back.
Finally, the Chiefs' line was breached after 23 minutes with arguably the try of the tournament so far.
Jaque Fourie started it in his own 22, before a combination of Burger, Naqelevuki, Louw and Tiaan Liebenberg took the ball almost to the Chiefs line. Louw was hauled down short and then the quick ball was sent out to Habana with a long looping pass from Grant. Habana had two metres to go.
It quickly got worse for the Chiefs. A long clearance fell to Aplon, who checked and accelerated through some appalling tackling. All he needed to do was time his pass to Duane Vermeulen, who powered home in the corner with Grant converting superbly from wide out.
Even when the home side did string some moves together, the bounce of the ball refused to go their way. Richard Kahui's dab through on the half-hour mark would have popped up into Sione Lauaki's hands on most days of any week, but on this one it jumped up from the turf like it had hit a coiled spring and bounded into touch with the tryline begging.
Then there was the chip by Tim Nanai-Williams, which Dwayne Sweeney even had under control before he lost it again in the tackle as he crashed over the line. When it's not your day, it's not your day.
At the third time of asking, the Chiefs did cross the whitewash. Lauaki took the ball powerfully off the back of a scrum and popped the ball up for Tanerau Latimer who coasted over under the posts to make it 20-10 at half-time.
So much for that though. Within five minutes of the restart the Stormers had the game wrapped up. Andries Bekker rumbled down the right ebfore the ball moved smartly from one side to the other, Habana straightened the line and Liebenberg crashed over.
Grant converted, added a penalty, and then it took only another five minutes for the Stormers to grab the bonus point, with some sublime side-to-side rugby culminating in Naqelevuki slicing through the stretched defence.
Bekker scored the fifth, stretching for the line after some patient forward driving, Deon Fourie notched the sixth after picking up a loose ball from a bout of hot potato by the Chiefs' inside backs.
In between, Tim Nanai-Williams scored a peach of a try for the Chiefs and the young full-back's display was a rare beacon of light on a dim evening for the home side - on a night when any thought of a semi-final was extinguished completely.
The win lifts the Stormers top of the table for 24 hours at least. On this form, who'd bet against them being there in five weeks' time?
Man of the match: It would be wrong to single out anyone from this Stormers display, so we'll go for a team award to the men from the Cape.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Latimer, Nanai-Williams
For the Stormers:
Tries: Habana, Vermeulen, Liebenberg, Naqelevuki, Bekker, D.Fourie
Cons: Grant 5
Pens: Grant 3
Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Nathan White, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Colin Bourke 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Callum Bruce, 22 Jackson Willison.
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Sireli Naqelevuki, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 François Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Tim Whitehead.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)