Early Sunday, my Chiefs will take on the Bulls to play for the Super 14 title this year.
It’s fair to say I’ve fallen out of love with the S14 recently, the extra teams making it an un-neccesarily long slog (have rugby administrators never head of ‘fast game’s a good game? This goes for the Tri-Nations too). But the Chiefs’ run to the final has bought me right back. After Friday’s semi final win in the fog, I may even have got over excited.
With first up losses to the Crusaders, Warratahs and Sharks it seemed like another underachieving season loomed before a long string of wins (including a narrow loss to the Bulls in Pretoria, portend fans) put us back in contention. Top of the table in fact. To take the semi spot, and make the final we had to beat the Hurricanes (twice) and the Brumbies – and we did, by 8, 3 and 4 points. Winning close ones that count is totally un-Chiefs like. It’s been absorbing and nailbiting. Not to mention bloody *brilliant*.
So now the final and the Bulls in their lair. And a pretty bloody scary lair it is too, going by the rabid fans the cameras pan across (yes, I know about people in glass houses and that). The Chiefs’ last three matches have been in Hamilton, at night, and in the wet. How we cope with being in South Africa, dry, and in broad daylight will be the test. Forget that Sivi’s out, we’ve had injuries all season and still done the job. This team has a great forward pack, a magic back three and a willingness to attack from anywhere. It’s all orchestrated by Stephen Donald, our next All Black first five (until the other one is fit), who’s done more than anyone to get us there.
Finals are a cliche lover’s dream – we all know it’s 80 minutes of Rugby, anyone can take it on the day and full credit to everyone concerned. Go on you Chiefs, I hope you bloody do them.
Thanks to Naly for the photo.