THE Cape Town-based Stormers have suddenly found themselves in unchartered waters in this year's Super 14.
In previous years at this stage of the tournament - week 5 - they would have been floating around the bottom half of the log. But, a new-found belief in themselves and a run of victories and now, there is only the Blue Bulls between themselves and a spot as log leaders.
Saturday evening saw them putting together a very business-like display in beating the Hurricanes 37-13 at Newlands.
In the past the Stormers forward pack has had a question mark over their toughness, but this year they are mixing it with the best.
Andries Becker, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulan continue to put in a big effort and it was Vermeulan who dotted down on the stroke of half time from a rumbling maul.
Earlier in the first half the Fijian-born Sereli Naqelevuki picked up a second try in as many matches. And, the lightweight Joe Pietersen once again found the try line when in the 31st minute he spotted a gap and glided through untouched for a five-pointer.
A comfortable 20-3 half time lead to the Stormers but the Hurricanes were not completely out of it.
Their front row continually bothered the home side and Brock Harris had a difficult night at the office as he often found himself on the back foot.
He did manage though, to pick up a try after rumbling over the line.
It took the Hurricanes all of 66 minutes to get a try, which eventually came via wing David Smith. Tyson Keats followed with another after the final hooter.
Stormers captain Burger was upbeat after the game. "It was a pretty good performance. Defence has been our strength. We are now working on attack."
The hardest part of the competition - when they travel to Australasia - still awaits them, but judging by their current form they are certain to be competitive.
Meanwhile Waratahs captain Phil Waugh became the most capped New South Wales player in Super 14 history on Friday morning earning 119 caps. His team paid tribute to the milestone with a 73-12 win over a hapless Gauteng Lions side.
It was back-to-back wins for the Waratahs at home. A look at the try sheet - 11 tries to 2 - sums up the game perfectly.
Once again the Lions defence was as porous as a kitchen sieve and the alarm bells must definitely be ringing both within the camp in Australia and back home at their Ellis Park headquarters.
While the home side's passing was slick, the Lions continued to make basic errors and any good work they managed to do was undone with sloppy skills.
The errors were evident in the opening match against the Stormers and five weeks later the same basic errors are creeping in to their game.
After the match, a dejected Lions captain Cobus Grobelaar summed it up: "Miss your tackles against a quality side like the Waratahs and you get punished."