LIVE

    Odds favour Chiefs in finale

    2013-08-01 13:10

    Sydney - Brumbies will not so much have to rewrite the record books as tear them to pieces and stamp the remains into the Hamilton turf if they are to deprive the Chiefs of successive Super Rugby titles this weekend.

    Win or lose, Saturday's final will mark the end of 23 000km, three-week odyssey that has taken the Brumbies from a home playoff victory over the Cheetahs, through a semi-final upset of the Bulls in Pretoria to the brink of a third title.

    In their path stand Dave Rennie's Chiefs, as fresh as a team can be a week after a typically bruising semi-final encounter with the Crusaders and determined to retain the crown they won for the first time last year.

    The match at the 25 000 capacity Waikato Stadium was sold out in six hours and the arena, in the heart of a city known affectionately as "the Tron," will be no place for the faint-hearted on Saturday.

    To say that precedent suggests a Chiefs win would be a major understatement.

    Should the Brumbies win, they would become the first team from overseas to win any playoff match in New Zealand and the first side in 13 years to win the final outside their own country.

    They would be the first to win the title after finishing outside the top two in the regular season standings and the first to triumph after winning a semi-final on another continent.

    The Brumbies have lost all three of the finals they have contested away from Canberra, taking the title only on home soil in both 2001 and 2004.

    "I'm under no illusions that it's never been done before," coach Jake White said in the flush of the victory over the Bulls in Pretoria.

    "But there's a lot of things that haven't been done by teams before and the Brumbies have done them week-in, week-out.

    "Who knows? This is a special group of players. Two years ago no one gave us a chance."

    Two years ago, few would have predicted a Chiefs-Brumbies final at all after the New Zealanders finished 10th and the Brumbies 13th in the standings.

    Former World Cup winning Springbok coach White has since turned things around in Canberra, while Rennie has had a more immediate impact upon his arrival in Hamilton.

    Sonny Bill Williams helped them to the title last year but the Chiefs were never even close to a one-man team and the hard-working forward pack that provided the platform for the 2012 success remained for this year's campaign.

    With flyhalf Aaron Cruden's influence growing game-by-game, the Chiefs brushed off a 43-15 hammering by the Crusaders a month ago to secure top spot in the final regular season standings before gaining revenge over the Canterbury side last weekend.

    Rennie named an unchanged side on Thursday subject to winger Lelia Masaga, who scored a stunning individual try in the 20-19 win over the Crusaders, passing a fitness test on his injured ankle.

    "We are still highly motivated," Rennie said on Thursday.

    "I guess the fact we have been here before gives you confidence and understanding of what to expect and does not make it any easier.

    "We have come up against a very good side who were very impressive at Loftus last week and have an outstanding coaching group."

    The experience of winning the title in the Brumbies camp is nine-years-old now and limited to evergreen openside flank George Smith and revitalised winger Clyde Rathbone.

    To give the Brumbies a chance, Smith will probably have to reprise his man of the match performance from last week in Pretoria when the Brumbies became the first team to beat the Bulls in a semi-final at Loftus Versfeld.

    "Little things along the way build belief and we have the momentum now," Rathbone told ABC radio this week.

    "To knock over the Bulls in Pretoria has given us the belief we can go to Hamilton and do the same."

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    6 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • Blitz
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
    • SS1
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
    • SS2
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
    • SS3
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    Commented
    /Sport

    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Does the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory give the Wallabies an edge heading into the Rugby Championship?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.