Chiefs Su­per Rugby win great night

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

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.

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