Chiefs Super Rugby win great night
The Chiefs claimed their first-ever title by beating the Sharks 37-6 in front of a packed house in Hamilton on Saturday night.
The Chiefs defeated the Crusaders the previous week in the semifinal to progress and the Sharks managed to overcome the Stormers 26-19 to secure their spot in the final.
Both sides had full strength teams on the field, with the only doubt for the Chiefs being Craig Clarke.
Fortunately he passed the fitness test in time to lead our boys out on to the field for possibly the biggest game in their history.
During the first 20 minutes the Sharks dominated field position, forcing the Chiefs to defend their line on numerous occasions.
First points came from the boot of Frederic Michalack, Sharks 3 Chiefs 0.
Eventually they managed to apply enough pressure on the Sharks’ defensive line for speedy winger Tim Nanai Williams to slip through the tackle of Bismark du Plessis and squeeze over the line to take the score to 7-3 to the Chiefs after the conversion.
The Chiefs added two penalties to lead 13-3 at halftime.
Even though the Sharks had been dominated, they were still very much in the game and could be very dangerous.
Shortly after the second half commenced, the Chiefs were awarded a five-metre scrum.
This was a bizarre call by referee Steve Walsh as the Sharks No 10 was attempting to kick the ball when one of the Chiefs charged it down, only for the ball to roll over the dead ball line.
The rules would indicate that it should have been a 22 drop out.
This won’t endear him to many fans who already were up in arms upon hearing of his appointment to the final. However, on to the scrum. The Chiefs had a strong scrum platform, allowing enough time and space for No 8 Kane Thompson to dive across for the try to extend the lead to 23-6.
With the game pretty much in the bag, the Chiefs brought on replacements Brendon Leonard and Lelia Masaga.
The latter scored an opportunistic try after the Sharks had lost the ball and Masaga claimed it and managed to outgun the defence to score a great try. This pushed the score to 30-6 with 10 minutes to play, which effectively killed the Sharks’ chances. The final act of the game saw the ball thrown wide to Sonny Bill Williams, who slid in for the last try, and then promptly jumped up into the stand where he was mauled by his adoring fans.
When the final whistle went, everyone in my house jumped up yelling and yahooing.
Seeing the emotion on the Chiefs’ faces, after all the hard work throughout the year, made this moment extra special. It was great for players like Liam Messam, Brendon Leonard and Craig Clarke to be able to get a second chance for redemption after suffering a heavy defeat against the Bulls in the only other final they reached.
When Messam and Clarke lifted the trophy, it was a great feeling being a Chiefs fan, knowing that they were the best team in the whole competition.
A memorable moment occurred after the Chiefs had done their lap of honour, when the kapa haka group performed a rousing haka with all the players involved, even injured Richard Kahui, sling and all.
What a great way to end the TV coverage – showing the rest of the country and the world, our province’s strong and proud Maori heritage.
Congratulations to Sonny Bill for finishing a winner with the Chiefs before going back to League.
Seeing the pictures post-match, you could tell by the emotion on his face that he is really sad to be leaving rugby.
I think he will come back one day. He is such a magnificent athlete he can play most sports with ease.
To all those critics out there who said he would never get the hang of rugby, I say he has proven to be arguably one of the best second fives in the world, and definitely the best in New Zealand at the moment.
Absolutely awesome: The Chiefs, 2012 Super Rugby champions.