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Chiefs make a stunning comeback to defeat Stormers

The Waikato Chiefs overcame a 17-point half-time deficit and capitalised on a controversial penalty try and yellow card to upset the highly-touted Stormers 30-23 in their Super Rugby clash at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.

The Chiefs, who were 20-3 down at the break, scored 17 unanswered points at the beginning of the second half, which was sparked by a penalty try awarded by referee Stuart Dickinson when Richard Kahui was pushed in the back by Gio Aplon while diving for the bouncing ball in the in-goal area.

Aplon was also sinbinned for his push and the Chiefs added a second try by Sitiveni Sivivatu and Stephen Donald slotted a penalty to tie the score at 20-20, all while the Stormers winger was off the field.

“We had a patch in the first half, about 10 minutes when they piled on points but to our credit we came out and really wanted to finish well and I’m absolutely stoked,” said Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina, who was playing his 100th Super rugby match.

“For the boys to cap it like this, 100 [caps], is absolutely outstanding.”

After a tentative opening 10 minutes in which Donald had slotted a penalty for the Chiefs, the Stormers clicked into gear and marched down field to give flyhalf Peter Grant the opportunity to slot two penalties and take the lead.

The South Africans then scored two well worked tries — the first by the busy Aplon, whose angle back off his wing opened up the defence and he then chopped past three defenders off his left foot to score.

Stormers captain Schalk Burger then dived over after a well-controlled rolling maul from an attacking lineout. Grant converted both to give the visitors their handy 20-3 lead.

The Chiefs however, reversed the momentum immediately after the break with Donald converting Kahui and Sivivatu’s tries before adding his second penalty to make it 20-20 just as Aplon returned to the field.

Grant slotted his third penalty before Chiefs flanker Liam Messam smashed over following a sustained buildup from deep to give the home side the lead for the first time, which Donald extended with his third penalty.

“The second half was pretty disgusting, we couldn’t keeper our hands on the ball and keep it through phases and [they scored] two breakaway tries,” Stormers captain Schalk Burger said.

“So it put us under pressure and we couldn’t recover from that.” — Reuters

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