In a pulsating final the Waikato Chiefs fought back against a spirited ACT Brumbies side to win back-to-back Super-15 titles. The final score line, 27-22, didn’t look likely midway through the second-half but two quick tries saw them claw their way back to lead the game and they managed to see off the Brumbies fight-back. Final score 27-22
A lot of the first-half belonged to the Brumbies, particularly centre Christian Lealiifano, who accounted for all of the Brumbies points. They raced into a 9-0 lead through the boot of Lealiifano. Aaron Cruden replied with three penalties of his own before Lealiifano crossed the line and converted to give the Brumbies a half-time lead.
The second-half was more of the same. Both teams really played some good rugby and in the end the Chiefs pulled through with home advantage proving to be a big factor. Even when the team were behind, the impression was always there that the Chiefs would reply with the home crowd behind them. Two quick-fire tries saw a significant turnaround and they led 27-22 as the game entered the final stretch.
The Brumbies battled right to the final whistle. They had a penalty to set up an attacking line-out but full-back Jesse Mogg failed to find touch and with that the Brumbies final chance was gone. The Chiefs managed to hold on for the final few minutes as a knock-on from the Brumbies after the hooter led to jubilant celebrations.
It was a great win for the Chiefs. They are not a team littered with All-Blacks but the celebrations showed what a united group they are. Team work and team spirit were the main factors in their victory and the loss of Sonny Bill Williams didn’t prove to be detrimental to the team.
Looking at today’s game I would like to see the final’s played at a neutral venue in the future. I know it may be tough to organise taking the distances between the teams into account but the home advantage really seemed to have a huge bearing on the outcome. Even when the Chiefs were behind there was an impression that the home support will see them over the line. It’s something I would like to see changed only for a final. Support could be more evenly spread and it would lead to a better occasion, in my opinion.