The Super Rugby Final is upon us as the Chiefs host the Brumbies in the championship decider. Join us on The Roar for live scores and commentary from 5.30pm AEST.
In the biggest match of the year the Brumbies will travel to Hamilton, where the Chiefs will be trying to win the Final in front of their home fans for the second year in a row.
Already the match has been called a sell-out, so the Brumbies are sure to face a raucous crowd the second week in a row after playing in front of very parochial Bulls fans last week.
Across the park both sides come into the Final with players in good form, as you’d imagine after both have won their respective Conferences this year which means they’ve been very consistent.
One of the important match-ups is the front-row battle.
The Brumbies’ trio of Scott Sio, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander were very strong last week in the victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
They play a strong role around the park and help the Brumbies gain physical dominance at the rucks – especially Sio, for a front-row forward he gets over the ball regularly in the mould of an Andrew Hore.
Toby Smith, Hika Elliot and Ben Tameifuna have been good for the Chiefs as well this year and are always involved.
One area of weakness last week against the Crusaders was the lineout throwing of Elliot, and that will need to be addressed before tonight’s match.
Sio and Moore are very strong scrummagers, and although Alexander had a strong showing last week he’s not always the strongest in that department, so Toby Smith and Elliot may look to target him at that particular set piece and see if they can prize an opening.
Both sides have ample firepower in the backline as evidenced by the fact both teams punctuated committed, physical performances with speedy, skilful tries by the backs.
The back three of the Chiefs – Leila Masaga (likely to play despite being bracketed in the team announcement), Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Gareth Anscombe is one of the best all-round groups in the competition.
They’re matched by the equally capable Brumbies division of Joe Tomane, Henry Speight and Jesse Mogg.
The result of such quality in those positions will mean any wayward punts or short kicks through the line will be punished, and fans should get ready for some game-turning counter-attacks to come at pivotal moments.
Either side could win or lose the game there.
This Final is one of those occasions where the expectation of a genuine rugby contest probably won’t go unfounded.
Neither side will budge physically, or be afraid of playing the field position game at times, but both will be aware of the defensive commitment of the opposition and the need to operate with speed to have a chance of breaking them down.
Each team has the brute strength and skill level required to make the most of any opportunities that arise and we should be the beneficiaries of an exciting game because of it.
Don’t forget to log on here at 5.30pm AEST to get your live scores, commentary and have your own say.