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Awesome Super Rugby final sees Chiefs vs Sharks, SBW vs Pietersen

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    Sonny Bill Williams returns for the Chiefs to face Kiwi rivals the Crusaders. (AP Photo/SNPA, Ross Setford)

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    Saturday night’s 2012 Super Rugby final between the Chiefs and the Sharks at Hamilton is a fitting climax to what has been a terrific tournament. One of the best features has been that on any day, any team can defeat another.

    This trend continued in the semi-finals. Neither bookmakers (who put their money where their mouths are) nor pundits (who just offer their mouths) could see past a Stormers-Crusaders final.

    A typical commentary was that of Michael Lynagh, a shrewd player and informed commentator, who went on the record before the semi-finals to declare that the Crusaders would win the entire tournament.

    His grounds for making this claim were that the Crusaders have been the best team in Super Rugby in winning finals.

    What we saw at Hamilton on Saturday night was an end, at least until a rebuild takes hold, of this undoubted Crusader ascendancy. The great Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter, who are the heart, soul and muscle behind so many Crusader triumphs, just can’t carry the rest of the players.

    Embattled coach Todd Blackadder was moved to express his disappointment with the many All Blacks in his side who could not rise to the occasion. But, in my view, part of this is due to Blackadder’s coaching.

    He took over a side that the year before, in 2008, had won its seventh Super Rugby tournament. This was Robbie Deans’ last Super Rugby campaign, and the last of his five tournament wins as a coach.

    Under Blackadder, the Crusaders have been a finals side, but not the finals-winning side.

    When you looked at the way the Crusaders played against the Chiefs, the immediate thing that strikes is that the Crusaders are playing to the exact game plan that Deans worked out for them. In four years, Blackadder has not added anything tactically. He has introduced or poached gifted players like Israel Dagg but failed to get value out of them.

    The Crusaders need a new coach. Well-coached sides are beginning to work out how to defeat the old game plan.

    It is significant that a change in the coaching staff marked the rise and rise of the Chiefs. Dave Rennie, along with former All Blacks coach and selector Wayne Smith and forwards coach Tom Coventry, has given the formerly flaky, unstructured Chiefs the systems, plays and nous to make them the most formidable of the New Zealand teams.

    The Crusaders were taken by surprise (but why?) by the rushing, hard-shouldered Chiefs defensive pattern. Every time Carter got the ball he seemed to be surrounded by Chiefs defenders. I thought that the Crusaders actually played too flat (a big concession on my part for I am an advocate of the flat back-line system).

    At the end of the match, when the Crusaders needed a dropped goal or penalty to take the game into extra time, they were driven back 20 metres and into their own half by the ferocity and accuracy of the defence before a handling mistake was made.

    What I look for in coaches is whether players improve under their supervision. Three key Chiefs, Aaron Cruden, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams, have taken their games to a higher level than previously this season.

    Messam, in my opinion, has cemented his place in the All Black side as the successor to Jerome Kaino. Certainly his play against the Crusaders was right up to the McCaw standard for loose forward play.

    Cruden (and let’s say this very very quietly because it is such an unlikely outcome) is probably the best number 10 playing in New Zealand right now.

    And Williams was just awesome against the Crusaders. What a pity that he is being lost to international rugby just at the time when he promises to be one of those players of a generation.

    The confrontation between SBW and JP Pietersen, easily the outstanding player on the field in the South African semi-final, will be titanic. Pietersen playing in the centres and sometimes on the wing for the Sharks has been totally outstanding. He is big, fast, and has a devastating step which he used to split the usually impenetrable Stormers defence to score a decisive try. His defensive work is just as outstanding.

    It was fitting, somehow, that at the end of the match when the Stormers were hot on attack, looking for a converted try to take the match into extra time, it was Pietersen who made a tremendous clean-out that knocked the Stormers off a tackled ball, exposing it for the Sharks to pick up and boot into touch.

    The issue for the Sharks is whether they can maintain their energy after yet another trip from South Africa to this part of the world, with Brisbane two weeks ago and Hamilton this coming weekend. They are going to spend most of this week in Sydney before flying on to Hamilton on Thursday. This makes sense.

    The key for them will be to start as vigorously and effectively as they did against the Reds and the Stormers. In both these matches they were able to establish a handy early lead which they were able to defend, even though for long periods their line was under intense attack.

    The Sharks play the most balanced game of all the South African sides. Their defensive work is strong. They have a goodish lineout and strong enough scrum (although their front row comes up a lot without being penalised). They have a lot of energy and verve in their attack. With Pietersen in the backs and Bismarck du Plessis in the forwards, they have two game-breakers who can turn a losing match into a winning one.

    All this adds up to a cracking final.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (109)

    • July 30th 2012 @ 6:53am
      Charging Rhino said | July 30th 2012 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      This is the Sharks 4th final (5th if you include 1994 Super 10) yet they have never won it. It HAS to be their time….. SURELY!!!????

      In my opinion they’re the slightly better team on paper and on current form (I might be biased 🙂 ). But the home advantage and the Sharks travel factor are massive advantages for the Chiefs so the Sharks should be considered the underdogs and the Chiefs favourites. The previous game against the Chiefs was when the Sharks were starting to hit their straps and they unluckily just lost that game in Durban, albeit there were some dodgy ref calls that even the commentators were dumbfounded by.

      Should be close. Should be a cracker. I can’t wait for Saturday already!!!! Sharks have to win this this game in the first half, and first 5 mins of the 2nd half again.

      Who was questioning JP Pietersons credibility on some posts a few weeks ago? …..??


      • July 30th 2012 @ 7:24am
        mania said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        rhino – i’m a JPP fan now. he’s increased his shelf life being able to play centre. high class player who will be around for a long time

      • July 30th 2012 @ 7:27am
        Kuruki said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:27am | ! Report

        I was. How does the usuall argument go….he’s only good at super 15 what has he done against the All Blacks at international level. When he comes up against the best on the biggest stage he is rarely seen anywhere near the ball or the action. He is a super 15 bully and he will be shown up again in the RC. Some say he is the best winger some even go as far as saying best back in the game right now. I would pick Jane and Kahui over him everyday of the week. And i’m sure Savea or Gear will show him up in the RC aswell.

        i love seeing his name in the Springbok team sheet because you know he is not going to do much at all and basically just make up the numbers like he has done in the past. I genuinely cannot remember him doing anything of note in a test match against the All Blacks? maybe he has not even played us before?

        • Roar Guru

          July 30th 2012 @ 7:32am
          biltongbek said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:32am | ! Report

          You just don’t rate him do you?

          Well that’s OK, hopefully the All Blacks feel the same way as you, it can only work to our benefit.

          Only, you’re in the minority and I. Doubt Hansen will be that one eyed.

          • July 30th 2012 @ 7:46am
            Kuruki said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

            I rate what he has done this Super season. But i genuinely do not rate anything i have seen from him in the Sppringbok jersey against the All Blacks. The only time i ever see him is running into some niggle to puff his chest out.
            When it comes to crunch time he is never anywhere near the ball.
            I feared guys like Fourie Habana Du Preez because i remember us being punished by them at certain times, but i cannot recall even one passage of play that JP done in a Bok jumper against the All Blacks, not even one and that is being honest. That is why i don’t rate him, i only remember seeing his name on the team sheet nothing else.

            • July 30th 2012 @ 7:51am
              mania said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:51am | ! Report

              kuruki – this was mainly due to the gameplan that matfield, FDP and smit came up with where they didnt consider using the bax at all in attack. habana was in the same boat yet has come to life away from the bulls and PDV environment.
              i was of the same opinion as you but now i’m kind of realising what a complete screw up the boks did to themselves over the last 4 years.

              • July 30th 2012 @ 8:24am
                Shaun said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

                Just for the record Habana had life at the bulls scoring 90% of his tries and being player of the RWC tournament. It’s was a move to the Stormers that ruined his mojo 🙂

              • July 30th 2012 @ 8:36am
                mania said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:36am | ! Report

                shaun – bzar. habana is playing better rugby now than he did at the 2007 WC. he stagnated at the bulls for so long. stormers have refired his passion and his work load and acuracy is immense.
                is this really your honest opinion that habana has lost his mojo this season?

              • July 30th 2012 @ 11:58am
                Shaun said | July 30th 2012 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                No, thankfully this season he has found his mojo and is enjoying his rugby, definitely wouldn’t go as far as saying he is better now than in 2007!

                As a winger you need to score tries and for that reason alone his move to the Stormers hasn’t been as successful as one would have hoped. Got some stats to back that up…

                Bulls (in the 5 years he played they ended 3rd, 4th, Won, 10th, Won & Won)
                2005 – 9 (springboks – 13 )
                2006 – 7 (springboks – 3 )
                2007 – 8 (springboks – 13 ) His BEST year by far!
                2008 – 5 (springboks – 3 )
                2009 – 8 (springboks – 6 )
                Averaged 7.4 tries per Super rugby season

                Stormers (in the 3 years he’s played they’ve ended 2nd, 2nd & 1st on the log.
                2010 – 7 (springboks – 0 )
                2011 – 4 (springboks – 2 )
                2012 – 5 (springboks – 0 ) Obviously still more tests this year & it looks promising (back with his Bulls mentor 🙂
                Averaged 5.3 tries per Super rugby season (with more games per season)

                The combination of Stormers & PDV was clearly not as effective as Bulls & White.
                Don’t get me wrong, habs is one of my favourite players…but these are the facts

              • July 31st 2012 @ 5:19am
                mania said | July 31st 2012 @ 5:19am | ! Report

                shaun – i’m not a statistician and nor do i look at a column of data when determining a players worth. what your stats dont show is all the extra work habana does, chasing of kicks, tackles, turn over bals. your isolating your view of his performance solely to his tries scored. whilst this is an indicator of his prowess it doesnt show his new lease of enthusiasm or for that matter show that all the tries he scored in this era were from opportuny presenting itself and habana capitilising on it.
                bulls and PDV era almost ruined habana’s career. of the last 3 years of PDV/PlayerPower reign not once did they have set moves to get the ball to the wings. bulls were the same. the tries habana scored were inspite of the bulls and playerPower gameplans
                your stats may show that habana scored more tries in that era but its easy to see that habana is enjoying rugby more and playing better at the stormers and the Boks under meyer

              • July 31st 2012 @ 10:54am
                Shaun said | July 31st 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

                I don’t quite understand your logic, as it was the bulls & meyer who developed Habs into the player he is. He’s always had the work rate, his tackling may have improved slightly although he still jumps the defensive line in search of intercepts. Meyer coached him at the bulls from 2004 – 2007 left in 2008 which coincide with a form slump, WC hangover and dismal bulls season.

                You mention kick chasing as his current strength…he learnt that at the Bulls with PdP.
                Opportunities for his tries pre stormer didn’t just miraculously present themselves. They were a product of pressure created by a performing bulls team, who created opportunities for him.

                I totally agree with your assessment on his play under PdV, but to say the same about his time at the bulls is pretty naive and obviously blinded by provincialism or something of the sort.

            • July 30th 2012 @ 8:11am
              ohtani's jacket said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

              Don’t really see how this is relevant. The three key Chiefs players Spiro mentions (Cruden, SBW and Messam) have done nothing against the Boks, either.

            • Roar Guru

              July 30th 2012 @ 3:52pm
              biltongbek said | July 30th 2012 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

              Kuruki measuring our wings during the PDV tenure is useless, Habana scored 30 tries during JW’s time in 35 tests and only 10 in 34 tests with PDV, JP Pietersen scored 7 tries in 16 tests under JW, 5 tries in 26 tests under PDV, and 2 tries in 3 tests under Heyneke Meyer.

              Looking at how JP ran through the English this winter and his confidence and ability he has shown during the season shows his ability.

          • July 30th 2012 @ 7:47am
            mania said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:47am | ! Report

            dream on biltongbek – not everyone thinks that and i doubt anyone in the AB’s will underestimate JPP.
            i never used to a JPP fan till he moved to centres and showed his versatility. once it became obvious that it was PDV and playPower holding him back, JPP (and habana) has a new lease of life. what i like about JPP is he’s increased his work load drammatically and his accuracy despite that increased workload.

        • July 30th 2012 @ 9:47am
          Justin2 said | July 30th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          Yet you are rating SBW as one of the best backs in the world and he has done what at Tests level? Isnt it the same thing?

          • July 30th 2012 @ 10:17am
            Riccardo said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            That’s a fair comment Justin.

            We may never know how well SBW could have gone at Test Level which is a shame.

            What we have seen, while promising, does not necessarily equate to dominance against the Boks or the Wallabies.

            • July 30th 2012 @ 10:25am
              Justin2 said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

              I tend to agree Ricc.

              Plenty of promise and an encouraging display against Ireland. But lets face it, he should be looking good at home v Ireland shouldnt he? Away to AUS, SA and the top 6N sides is a different kettle of fish.

          • July 30th 2012 @ 12:09pm
            winston said | July 30th 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

            Does Ireland and the northern tours count?

        • July 30th 2012 @ 1:17pm
          Suzy Poison said | July 30th 2012 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          You are probably correct Kuruki, I haven’t seen him do much against the All Blacks. At International level, I think J.P. made a name for himself for his try saving ball and all tackle, that got the Boks thru the nervous Quarterfinal in 2007, against Fiji. That single tackle and the attitude it displayed was enough for him, to lock his place in the Bok team, for the next few years. Perhaps he has ridden his luck, but this year, it looks like the bloke is really enjoying his footy. Then in game two versus England, this year, he pretty much stepped thru, the whole England team, so at International level, I think he has the goods. Perhaps just not done much against your mob, yet? Let’s see how he goes against the Chiefs, he may surprise you.

        • July 30th 2012 @ 8:38pm
          David said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

          He has played NZ 9X

          Flawed logic – Lomu never scored against the Boks.
          I dont draw conclusions from that except that maybe he was well marked.

          With him on the field we have a 4-5 record against NZ.
          He is solid in defence
          14 test tries.. none against NZ

          Still only 26 years old

          • Roar Guru

            July 30th 2012 @ 9:04pm
            biltongbek said | July 30th 2012 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

            Correction mate, JP Pietersen scored a try in that famous win in Duneden in 2008.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 12:54pm
        Jokerman said | July 30th 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Yep agreed, Spiro. Blackadder is not as astute and sharp as Deans. Interesting Deans wanted current Hurricanes coach, Hammit to take over the Crusaders when Deans left. A gifted Rugby mind knows another eh?

        Isn’t SBW on fire? Currently the best player in the world in my view…ahh yes a few hate to hear that. You can’t help wonder if he has made the right decision for himself…I hope he has, perhaps he wants a mix of all, or cramming in a few things before a return to the All Blacks.

        He can become one of the best ever within the best team….and he is leaving it…for now. I hope he returns.

        • July 30th 2012 @ 3:32pm
          Red Menace said | July 30th 2012 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

          “… astute and sharp as Deans.” Is this the same Robbie Deans that is “coaching” the Wallaby’s?

          What a difference a week makes. Last week all the talk was about refs (boring) and now it is all about what a great final we have instore…

          I am leaning towards the Sharks at the moment, have a feeling the Chiefs played their final last Friday.

    • July 30th 2012 @ 7:05am
      Ben S said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      Seems overly harsh on Blackadder simply to keep waving the Robbie Deans flag. If you;re going to disingenuously mention Dagg then you should mention the Franks brothers, Romano, Sam Whitelock and Read.

      Pietersen was excellent. Not sure he’ll have much contact with SB Williams, however, given they play in different positions.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 12:41pm
        Jutsie said | July 30th 2012 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        Isnt pietersen playing at 13 atm, they could cross a few times in the centres. Cant wait to see this tussle. Both have been in electric form.

        • July 30th 2012 @ 8:05pm
          Ben S said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

          They might well cross, undoubtedly, I just think it’s a bit tenuous making claims of a SB Williams v Pietersen clash.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 1:09pm
        Jokerman said | July 30th 2012 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        Ben S,
        Blackadder has not won another title since Deans left, therefore he will be looked at. Simply he is not as good as Deans. I will say Crusaders will not win another title while he is there. He is not an awful coach, but just not good enough to win the super comp.

        • July 31st 2012 @ 12:53am
          Ben S said | July 31st 2012 @ 12:53am | ! Report

          Hard to reach any concrete opinion on this, IMO. Deans was in charge of the Crusaders under a totally different context. I wouldn’t seek to undermine the titles he won, I’m just not sure that the comparison between the two coaches is particularly apt. Also, the writer is just using this as another pro-Deans tool because he’s unable to point to anything tangible in his time as Wallabies coach. OJ makes a number of good points further down the page.

    • July 30th 2012 @ 7:13am
      Colin said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      I think Spiro is right on both counts – Blackadder has been living off Dean’s leavings, and the excellent infrastructure at the Crusaders, but it is starting to unravel. I thought the Crusaders looked a bit ragged around the edges at times this season. It will be interesting to see if they fall of the pace completely next year, or not.

      Already some murmurings in New Zealand that all the Chiefs have to do is turn up to win the final, but they might want to consult the Reds and Stormers before taking this Sharks side for granted. The travel factor will play a part, but Plumtree seemed to manage his subs very well on Saturday, and they stepped up too… It’s going to be good.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 10:02pm
        Sylvester said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

        The Crusaders in their championship years always got the best out of players with limited ability, but under Blackadder it’s mostly the opposite. Players like Dagg and Fruean are quite inconsistent and for the most part underperform in the bigger games.
        I’m not convinced he’s tactically astute, more relying a talented team playing to their best most weeks which just isn’t going to cut it.

    • July 30th 2012 @ 7:16am
      Colin said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      I suppose with the Sharks preparing and launching out of Sydney, and if they win, the Aussies will be able to claim some share in the victory 🙂

      • July 30th 2012 @ 11:30am
        Rob from Brumby Country said | July 30th 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        I just thought that it was a nice gesture to Sydneysiders to have a capable rugby team launching from their city for a change.

    • July 30th 2012 @ 7:22am
      mania said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      gosh now we bashing blackadder? despite his lack of silverware he’s kept the saders up amongst the best and saders are still considered the team to beat. saders have still made every semi’s since blackadder took over and last year the finals. blackadder is a darn good coach. if we were gonna drop him for not winning a super finals which is incredibly difficult then we have to drop every other coach bar mckenzie,a s he’s the only current coach to have won a title.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 8:04am
        ohtani's jacket said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Blackadder’s biggest problem is that he hasn’t been able to get the Crusaders to finish high enough. Only one of Deans’ titles came on the road and that was on the back of a home semi, something the Crusaders haven’t had under Blackadder. I agree with others than there are problems with the tactics and in particular the backline (Dagg, for example, I think plays better at test match level than he does in Super Rugby), but there are always problems with losing semi-finalists’ performances. Where Blackadder is struggling is with rotation. He doesn’t seem to have worked out how to manage a season yet. In fairness to him, he’s faced with longer seasons than Deans and more demands to rest his star players. I can’t remember Carter or McCaw being as unavailable for Deans as they have been for Blackadder. Also, the media has got to get over this notion that the Crusaders are seven times champions and the best team at finals football. Way too much reverence for a team that is one of the pack.

        • July 30th 2012 @ 9:49am
          Justin2 said | July 30th 2012 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          That and the fact Deans had McCaw and Carter in their primes along with a host of other players at the right time.

        • Roar Guru

          July 30th 2012 @ 10:29am
          Sam Taulelei said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Agree OJ that the media needs to stop referring to the Crusaders past successes as the sole reason why they are favourites over other teams.

          I stated here on the Roar that I believed they would miss out altogether on the finals because their form was sub par. Nobody else was prepared to write them off and I was ultimately proved wrong.

          However I gave them no chance against the Chiefs because like the Stormers the Crusaders have struggled to score tries and unless they could replicate their game against the Bulls, which was deceiving as the Bulls were so poor, the Chiefs attacking threats were more likely to break a tight game open than the Crusaders who offer a much lesser threat in their backline by comparison.

          As I’ve mentioned beforehand we’re witnessing the end of a great era in Crusaders rugby as the influence of McCaw and Carter starts to wane. They haven’t blooded as much new talent to succeed those nearing the end of their playing days and those holding their spots due to lack of options and with the development programs of other franchises starting to bear fruit, they won’t be the benchmark team in NZ for much longer.

          Here’s a different way to assess Todd Blackadder’s tenure as coach, his record with the Crusaders in finals is very similar to Colin Cooper’s record with the Hurricanes.

          • July 30th 2012 @ 10:10pm
            Sylvester said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

            “They haven’t blooded as much new talent to succeed those nearing the end of their playing days and those holding their spots due to lack of options and with the development programs of other franchises starting to bear fruit, they won’t be the benchmark team in NZ for much longer.”

            Sam, outside our Carter and McCaw, and to a lesser extent Flynn and Donnelly, what other players would you determine are “nearing the end of their careers”?
            At openside, they’ve got Todd and at 10 they’ve got Bleyendaal and Taylor. The rest of squad is mid career at best.

          • July 30th 2012 @ 10:27pm
            nick said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            Final last year under extreme conditions and semis this year. Still a very consistent team and, according to the stats and the season standings, still very much one of the NZ teams to beat with only one finishing above them.

            Funny you mention that you thought they’d struggle against the chiefs due to try scoring. Especially seeing as the

            Crusaders scored more points on average than the Chiefs
            Had the same number of Try Scoring bonus points as the Chiefs
            Had a better defense with less points given up
            and they won only ONE less game than the Chiefs


        • July 30th 2012 @ 11:57am
          Bono said | July 30th 2012 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          What people tend to forget as well is the other teams have raised their standard so much higher over the last few years.

          During the Deans era, none of the SA teams we of the quality that we now see from the likes of the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls. The nz teams were a bit hit and miss. The only really consistent opposition were the Brumbies. It was a lot easier to win the comp back then. Added to this the longer draw now, with the June test window which impacts badly on the team with the most internationals, and it’s not hard to see the extra challenges a team like the Crusaders face…

          Judge Blackadder for his shortcomings cos I do believe he has a lot of them, but it;’s not fair to compare him to Deans.

      • July 30th 2012 @ 10:24am
        Acorn said | July 30th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        True mania, but i tend to agree with Spiro. Blackadder hasn’t added any new dimensions to the Crusaders, it has been more of the same for the last 4 years. The great coaches innovate, Blackadder should have known that his team will be hunted every match they play, much like the all blacks are. the challenge for him is to raise the standard, keep on improving, cos the challengers will keep coming. also the Crusaders have been uncharacteristically flat at times this year. the loss to the Rebels was unforgivable, and then the lack of composure against the Hurricanes towards the end of the season- all costly losses. For an organisation that prides themselves on excellence and innovation, unfortunately for Todd he has been found wanting. On paper they are a vastly superior side to most if not all teams, and this season the home ground issues weren’t there, so no excuses.

    • July 30th 2012 @ 7:31am
      Taniwha said | July 30th 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Where are these murmurings Colin? All I have seen is respect for the Sharks. Should be a cracker of game. Will be very interesting to see how the Chiefs go against the Sharks, who have been dynamic. All in all, makes for a cracker final.

      In regards to the Crusaders, their direction does look a bit muddled. I found it strange that they started Owen Franks from the bench. Losing Romano on top of Read meant a loss of a lot of physicality. They rely so much on Read, McCraw and Carter , and these guys now regularly miss significant chunks of the season which seems to affect their rhythm. Their back play in particular and ability to break the line (evident in win over Bulls as well) has been quite poor all season.

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      • July 30th 2012 @ 8:19am
        Colin said | July 30th 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Seen this in the NZ Herald under Chiefs on the Brink,

        “because only shocking ill-discipline or a catastrophic form slump will stop them claiming their first title”.

        I honestly thought it was going to be Crusaders vs Stormers final, but it must be said the Crusaders didn’t seem to have the intensity and the Chiefs want this badly – so do the Sharks.

        Not sure we can hold the Bulls vs Crusaders game up as a good example – I didn’t see it as significant – when a team was as bad as the Bulls on the night, anybody would look good against them. Perhaps the Crusaders’ mistake was that they believed the hype the Bulls game generated?

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