Sonny Bill Williams is one helluva rugby player
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New Zealand rugby player Ma'a Nonu, left, gestures towards teammate Sonny Bill Williams. AP Photo/Ross Land
If a World XV was named today, Sonny Bill Williams would be the first back selected.
Last night at Waikato Stadium, he used all of his 194cm (6ft 4) 108kg frame and pace to continually break the advantage line, despite close attention, in the Chiefs 20-17 Super Rugby semi-final win over the Crusaders to terminate their tournament.
Sonny Bill’s dynamic display set up Liam Messam’s try and many raids, with fly-half Aaron Cruden and fullback Robbie Robinson chipping in with spectacular breaks of their own.
It gave the “David” Chiefs a win over the “Goliath” Crusaders for the chance to win their first Super Rugby title.
The Crusaders are grand masters when it comes to wearing Super crowns, having won seven.
But they had no answer last night to the Chiefs’ attacking skills, nor their devastating defence.
The match stats demanded a Crusader victory.
At half-time the Crusaders had commanded 66% territory and 56% possession, yet the Chiefs led 17-11, despite Crusader Ryan Crotty scoring after the hooter.
By full-time, the Crusaders had enjoyed 57% territory overall and 52% possession, but were beaten 20-17.
The Chiefs success can be attributed to keeping champion fly-half Dan Carter bottled up, and restricting skipper Richie McCaw, who was still outstanding wearing the unaccustomed 8 jersey, instead of 7.
But it was the usually-reliable Carter who missed out in three vital moments that decided the issue.
He failed to convert Crotty’s try from wide out, then failed to find touch by kicking a penalty clearance over the dead-ball line that cost the Crusaders 60m.
The Chiefs received a penalty moments later that Cruden landed, and four minutes from time Carter’s penalty shot from 48m on front to send the semi into extra time, fell short.
Three rare, but very costly, mistakes, leaving the icing on the Chiefs’ cake to SBW.
He will be a huge loss to world, All Blacks, and Chiefs rugby when he joins the Roosters in the NRL in 2013, after a short rugby stint in Japan.
SBW is a superb athlete, who doubles up as the heavyweight boxing champion of New Zealand.
He’s relatively raw in both sports.
But his incredible natural ability suggests he would shine at any sport he puts his mind to, as he’s proved playing rugby league for New Zealand.
So the Chiefs await the outcome of the second semi early tomorrow morning AEST between the Stormers and Sharks at Newlands.
If the Stormers win the Chiefs will be heading for Newlands for the decider. If the underdog Sharks get up, and there’s every chance they will, the Chiefs will have the advantage of playing the final at Waikato Stadium, which would be chockers at 25,000 as it was last night.
Literally, a world of difference.
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