2013 Super Rugby Grand Final
The Brumbies come together after Friday night's captain's run. Photo: Chris Dutton
ACT BRUMBIES v WAIKATO CHIEFS: At Waikato Stadium, Saturday, August 3, 2013, 5.30pm. Referee: Craig Joubert.
BRUMBIES: 1. Scott Sio 2. Stephen Moore 3. Ben Alexander 4. Scott Fardy 5. Sam Carter 6. Peter Kimlin 7. George Smith 8. Ben Mowen (c) 9. Nic White 10. Matt Toomua 11. Clyde Rathbone 12. Christian Lealiifano 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Henry Speight 15. Jesse Mogg. Bench: 16. Siliva Siliva 17. Ruan Smith 18. Fotu Auelua 19. Colby Faingaa 20. Ian Prior 21. Andrew Smith 22. Joe Tomane.
CHIEFS: 1. Toby Smith 2. Hika Elliot 3. Ben Tameifuna 4. Craig Clarke (c) 5. Brodie Retallick 6. Liam Messam 7. Tanerau Latimer 8. Matt Vant Leven 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow 10. Aaron Cruden 11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma 12. Andrew Horrell 13. Charlie Ngatai 14. Lelia Masaga/Robbie Robinson 15. Gareth Anscombe. Bench: 16. Rhys Marshall 17. Ben Afeaki 18. Michael Fitzgerald 19. Sam Cane 20. Augustine Pulu 21. Bundee Aki 22. Robbie Robinson/Patrick Osborne.
All the stats say the Brumbies can’t win this game. They’ve travelled too far, they’re playing the defending champions, no New Zealand team has lost a final at home and just three players in the Brumbies line-up have won a championship. But the motivation for the new generation Brumbies is simple - they want to prove people wrong. And while most have written them off all year, the Brumbies believe they can win. Coach Jake White has been happy to declare the Chiefs favourites. The Chiefs won the championship last season and are going for back to back titles. They’ve got All Blacks in their line-up and have been one of the most dominant teams for the past three years. In contrast, the Brumbies have started from the bottom and built themselves up. In the past three weeks they’ve been in three different countries, four different time zones and travelled 30,000 kilometres. There’s no doubt that will have some affect on the players - they’ve spent more time flying and driving in buses than they have at training. But this time of the year is about guts and determination and after fighting their way back to the top of the competition, no one can doubt the Brumbies have loads of courage.
Tip: Brumbies by five points
ACT TAB odds: Chiefs $1.30, Brumbies $3.50
It’s the Brumbies champion veteran George Smith taking on the Chiefs’ star duo of Liam Messam and Tanerau Latimer. The battle of the breakdown will decide who wins the contest in Hamilton on Saturday night. Neither team will be willing to risk opportunities from inside their own half. The Brumbies will try to pin the Chiefs deep inside their 22-metre zone and then give Smith a chance to be a nuisance at the breakdown. When asked during the week what he thought of Smith, Chiefs No.7 Latimer said: "He’s the man, bro." Messam was man of the match in the Chiefs’ grand final win last season. If Latimer and Messam can get on top of Smith, it will free up the Chiefs’ exciting back line to catch the Brumbies. If Smith gets on top, the Brumbies will have plenty of chances to score points. Smith is playing his last game in Australian rugby. A win would be a dream send-off to a Wallabies and Brumbies great.
Brumbies coach Jake White believes the forecast rain could be a "leveller" in Hamilton to limit the Chiefs’ attacking strike weapons. The overcast, cold and wet conditions will suit the Brumbies’ tactical kicking-game and willingness to be patient in attack and take penalty goals. Conversely, the Chiefs love a high-octane and free-flowing game. They’ve scored 52 tries this season - the most in the competition - and have the highest number of offloads. The Brumbies haven’t been attacking slouches, scoring 45 tries themselves. But their game is built on structure and waiting for the right moment rather than trying to make things happen. "The Chiefs have the most offloads and most tries so I hope it’s pelting down with rain," White said, tongue firmly in cheek. "There’s no doubt the rain will be a leveller. We’ve got an inexperienced team at this point, this game is massive. The Chiefs are such a great side and they can score from everywhere, who knows, maybe rain will be a blessing in disguise."
THE ROAD TO THE FINAL
The Chiefs and the Brumbies have taken completely different paths to the championship match. The defending champion Chiefs will be feeling relaxed after their build-up. The last time they had to leave New Zealand was when they beat the Melbourne Rebels on May 3. They won their home final last weekend against the Canterbury Crusaders. The Brumbies have had it much tougher. In the past four weeks they’ve been to Perth, Canberra, Pretoria and now Hamilton. After flying to New Zealand on Thursday, they’ve spent 43 hours on planes in four weeks. They’ve been in three different countries, four time zones and travelled 30,000km. Being able to see the finish line will help them push through. Athletic performance director Dean Benton has transformed the Brumbies into the fittest side in the competition. But if the match is still in the balance, they’ll face the biggest test with just 10 minutes remaining.
The Brumbies’ road to the final:
End of regular season: First Australian conference, third overall
R1. bt Queensland Reds 24-6
R2. bt Melbourne Rebels 30-13
R4. bt NSW Waratahs 35-6
R5. bt Durban Sharks 29-10
R6. lost to Cape Town Stormers 22-35
R7. bt Pretoria Bulls 23-20
R8. drew Southern Kings 28-28
R9. bt Otago Highlanders 30-19
R10. drew Queensland Reds 19-19
R11. bt Western Force 41-7
R.12 lost to Canterbury Crusaders 23-30
R14. lost to NSW Waratahs 22-28
R15. bt Auckland Blues 20-13
R16. bt Wellington Hurricanes 30-23
R17. bt Melbourne Rebels 39-17
R20. lost to Western Force 15-21
Qualifying final: bt Free State Cheetahs 15-13 at Canberra Stadium
Semi final: bt Pretoria Bulls 26-23 at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria