Bench power proved vital in Chiefs triumph
August 4, 2013
Backline replacement Robbie Robinson scored a decisive try when he came on from the bench © Getty Images
Being able to call on a talented bench for maximum impact heading into the crucial final quarter had made all the difference for the Chiefs in their 27-22 Super Rugby final triumph at Hamilton on Saturday night.
Coach Dave Rennie was delighted with the outcome after prop Ben Afeaki, flanker Sam Cane, halfback Augustine Pulu, centre Bundee Aki and fullback Robbie Robinson were all able to make as the Chiefs turned around a 12-22 deficit to achieve the title win in successive seasons.
"We got fantastic impact off the bench and that's probably the key for us. We've got a lot of guys on the bench where there is not a lot of difference between them and the starters. They did a great job for us and in the end that was probably the difference," Rennie said.
The Brumbies had been smart in their approach. They hadn't committed to rucks and while they looked off-side at times technically they were within the law and managed to disrupt and steal a lot of the Chiefs ball.
"It took us a while to sort out a strategy to sort that out and we did it better [in the] second half," Rennie said. "We needed to hang onto a bit of pill for a while and apply a bit of pressure. In the first half we kept moving the ball to where they had numbers and there was quite a bit of space in behind the wingers and in front of the fullback and we didn't communicate that well enough so we felt the intercept, we were talking about it in the coach's box, was always going to come and we put ourselves under a lot of pressure there."
"Once we started sending bigger numbers to rucks, their guys who were sneaking around the sides we were able to get rid of and play a bit of tempo and that made a bit of difference in the last 20 minutes," Rennie said.
The Chiefs coach said he was probably more nervous about this year's final than last year's.
"We're really satisfied. It was a tough tournament and you've got to be good and consistent for long periods and that gave us the opportunity to play at home tonight and that probably made the difference," Rennie said.
There had been a degree of desperation about the 2012 campaign but this year was different and it revealed the personal drive within the group. Chiefs captain Craig Clarke, who played his final game for the side, said his initial reaction after the game was one of relief.
"A 30-point would have been nice but it is just the way it is with an awesome Brumbies team who have got a huge amount of heart that put us under pressure," Clarke said.
Severing his contact with the side as he heads offshore hadn't really sunk in yet Clarke said. He had become used to campaigns with the Chiefs followed by time with Taranaki in the ITM Cup over five or six seasons.
"It's just going to be a completely different experience so I've definitely enjoyed what we're doing here. We've been through some lows and some highs over the last couple of years so I really appreciate the success that we're having," Clarke said.
But he was looking forward to moving on to his next challenge in the game.
"It does sometimes get tough as you get older, but there's nothing else I'd rather do." Tom Hamilton talks to fly-half Dan Carter
Stingers, a rampaging Fijian and two Dannys looking to be champions of the world - Monday Maul looks at some key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds