August 4, 2012
Chiefs win 2012 Super Rugby Championship
By SANZAR News Service and chiefs.co.nz
The Chiefs are the 2012 Super Rugby champions after a comprehensive 37-6 victory over the Sharks in the final to claim their first title in front of a sold out Waikato Stadium.
Though it was tight through the first 40 minutes, but a dominating second half performance proved to be the difference as the Chiefs ran away with the result.
Despite wet conditions it was apparent both sides would look to spread the ball in the opening stages.
The visitors enjoyed the first attacking opportunity after stealing one against the throw, the Chiefs soon conceded the penalty as first five Frederic Michalak nailed the goal for a 3-0 lead.
The winners of the New Zealand conference looked to be building momentum with the amount of possession they had and when crowd favourite Sonny Bill Williams busted the Sharks defence they never recovered.
Moments later the ball was moved through the hands as winger Tim Nanai-Williams finished the job powering over for the first try as Waikato Stadium erupted.
Hot on attack this time the Chiefs forwards appeared set to launch another charge on the Sharks defence before referee Steve Walsh awarded a penalty to the hosts.
Chiefs and All Black first five Aaron Cruden obliged knocking over the penalty to extend their lead to 10-3.
Cruden would have a second shot adding a further three points after Sharks prop Jannie du Plessis had a penalty reversed quite harshly for ill discipline causing a stir with front row counterpart Mahonri Schwalger.
On the stroke of halftime the Chiefs would have continue to apply the pressure on their opponents when a swift move saw Robbie Robinson in space, unfortunately no further points were added as the home side held onto a 13-3 advantage.
It was a perfect start to the second half for the Chiefs after a turnover immediately had the men from Durban on the back foot.
An attempt by the Sharks to clear the ball from their ingoal would be charged down by Chiefs captain Craig Clarke to force an attacking 5m scrum.
From the ensuing scrum number 8 Kane Thompson in his final game with the Chiefs dented the Sharks hopes as he surged over before TMO Garrett Williamson confirmed the try had been scored.
The Sharks refused to lie down as they made a rare attacking raid into Chiefs territory but could only manage a Michalak penalty to reduce the gap for his side.
Hopes were soon dashed for the South Africans when an crunching tackle by Williams dislodged the ball only for replacement winger Lelia Masga to pounce and blitz the field scoring the try in the corner.
A further three points to Cruden in the 71st minute would push the score out to 30-6 before the departing Williams capped off the rout as he crossed for the side's fourth try and celebrated with the fans.
It proved to be the final scoring act in the final as the celebrations kicked off when referee Walsh brought an end to the encounter as the Chiefs reigned 37-6.
For coach Dave Rennie there was a sense of satisfaction about what his side had achieved while adding he was pleased for the team as he reflected on their journey up until this point.
"It's hugely satisfying. I'm just really rapt for the boys, they're a great bunch, they've worked really hard and certainly earned the respect of not only our coaching group but this community.
"In the end it's not really about myself and about the other coaches. It's a lot about these boys, they've just been fantastic. Obviously we are just rapt to be a part of it but can't speak highly enough of the guys." Rennie said.
The Chiefs first title is a fitting way to farewell the skillful Sonny Bill Williams and the hard working Kane Thompson who are both off to Japan, while cult hero Sona Taumalolo is bound for France. The Chiefs family will be sure to wish the players and families the very best in the future.
It completes a historic season for the franchise but you can guarantee the Chiefs will look to go back to back in 2013.