Rennie reserves praise for gutsy Clarke
August 4, 2012
Craig Clarke and Liam Messam lift the Super Rugby trophy © Getty Images
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie reserved special praise for skipper Craig Clarke after he fought through the pain barrier to lift the Super Rugby title on Saturday.
The lock played 80 minutes as the Chiefs routed the Sharks 37-6 to secure a maiden Championship, having suffered a grade two medial ligament injury in last weekend's semi-final victory over the Crusaders.
"That's an injury with a six to eight-week recovery period,'' Rennie told APNZ. "To get 80 minutes out of him tonight speaks volumes for the character of the man.
"He shouldn't even have stripped but we got 80 minutes out of him, that's the type of player I want out there.''
After Tim Nanai-Williams' first-half try, the Chiefs took control of the contest, scoring further tries through Lelia Masaga and departing superstar Sonny Bill Williams.
The Sharks could not replicate their heroics of recent weeks, with a hellish travel itinerary obviously playing a role following play-off wins over the Reds and Stormers.
The Chiefs' defence remained resolute throughout - as it did against the Crusaders - and Rennie paid tribute to his side's work ethic.
"I'm really rapt for the boys. They're a great bunch and they've worked really hard,'' he said. "We targeted a lot of hard-working honest buggers who would put it all out on the field week after week.''
Clarke echoed his coach's sentiments and spoke of the pride that they had in their defensive record. "We managed to disrupt them a bit in the air and put them on the ground so they couldn't drive. The second half showed our trademark line speed and the boys were getting up in their face," he told AFP. "We've got a heap of pride in our defence and we talked about not letting them over and keeping to no tries."
Sharks skipper Keegan Daniel admitted that his side had failed to take their opportunities and that the Chiefs were worthy winners on the day.
"That's what finals rugby is about. You get such a little amount of opportunity to score points and you should capitalise and when we dominated the game early on we didn't put that into points," he said. "No excuses. The chiefs were outstanding tonight. They really suffocated us."
Sharks boss John Plumtree was frustrated with referee Steve Walsh's handling of the game, accusing the Chiefs of a number of off-the-ball indiscretions.
"I was a little bit frustrated with some of the off-the-ball stuff, holding defenders and some of the tactics at lineouts were illegal - they were offside all the time so we couldn't get our drives going," Plumtree said. "We were disappointed it wasn't handled better."
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