Rugby Union

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Pocock abandons Force

THE Western Force have given up hope of holding onto their captain David Pocock, who is expected to announce today that he has joined the Brumbies.

The Force, who are still trying to organise a coach for next season, issued a statement last night that said the province ''had learnt'' of Pocock's decision to leave the Force at the end of the season.

It is understood that Pocock has signed with the Brumbies, with his major motivation a desire to join a province with a viable chance of winning a Super Rugby title.

His departure from Perth will decimate the Force as he is their heart and soul, but his transfer to Canberra is not surprising considering that the Perth province is in disarray on and off the field. Several Force players have raised concerns in recent days over bungling by the province's officials, including as part of the process to appoint a new coach.

The Force last night said in a statement that ''for the past months, Rugby WA had done everything within its power to retain his [Pocock's] services''.

''David's concerns were principally around the club's inability to recruit high-profile players, with this challenge highlighted by the recent opportunity presented to Will Genia which ultimately was unsuccessful in bringing him to WA,'' the Force said.


There was strong speculation from the Brumbies last night that former Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone was also considering a comeback.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs bashed the gob-smacked Crusaders into submission. Out-muscled. Out-passioned. Out-thought. It sounds simple enough, but their execution was exceptional, because the meticulous planning was precise.

Pure physical aggression - and another mature Aaron Cruden display - propelled David Rennie's over-achieving men to their second Super Rugby final next week.

Spurred by a desperate mindset and the benefit of a week's rest to plot their revenge, the Chiefs transformed into possessed individuals who came together to achieve a collective goal. Most expected the seven-time champion rock-star Crusaders to prevail.

Coming off two losses, few predicted the Chiefs could produce a passionate, committed performance of this degree in Hamilton on Friday night. Yet few thought the Chiefs would be New Zealand's best hope of claiming the title, given their mass player exodus and new coaching staff Rennie brought this season.

''A lot of people probably didn't think we'd be in the position we are now but we had a self-belief in this group and it's only got stronger as the season has gone on,'' Cruden said.

The Chiefs' intentional niggle - and domination - started from the opening whistle and did not let up. They were worthy victors. So often composed and collected, the Crusaders' attack wasn't allowed to fire a shot.

Down by three-points in the closing stages, the red-and-black machine was repeatedly shunted back until another mistake ended their campaign.