Shock wins by the Brumbies and the Chiefs to reach final

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The past week was full of surprises and was obviously not for the faint hearted. We had the singing Elephant crossing the political divide, not to be mistaken with the Pink Elephants of yesteryear,  the reintroduction of the Gratian cup after a lapse of 30 years, the emergence of the Jaffna Challengers as a force to be reckoned with in the sevens rugby arena and the close games in the super rugby semi-finals. Whilst it is heartening to note that the Gratian cup has found favour once more, it should have been given adequate publicity so that all could have enjoyed the spectacle. The hosting of the game at 6:30 p.m. under lights was a good move although the choice of the day could have been better. Maybe they did not want it to clash with the cricket and dampen the spirits of those who had to travel to Galle for the rugby sevens. The rugby sevens received much publicity with all of the games being shown live. In the sevens game, there is a limited opportunity to add value to the viewer and unless the commentary panel is well informed it becomes a bore. In the quest to educate the viewers, the commentators must not continue babbling with no intent as one is distracted from the game. An option that I used frequently was the mute button on the idiot box and enjoyed the games a lot better. The running of advertisements is fine, as long as they do not interrupt the enjoyment of the game. On many occasions, I missed an important phase of the game just to be reminded of the time. In the first semi-final of the super rugby, the Chiefs won the game based on their defence tactics. They denied the ever surging Crusades space and the opportunity and in the final analysis Cruden outwitted Dan Carter. The Crusaders had three men on the defensive line as if they were sweepers negating Carters ability to kick ahead. In the previous week, Genia dropped back, but left a gaping hole upfront, which was difficult to plug. The Chiefs’ defensive effort was brilliant and Asaeli Tikoirotuma’s try-saving intercept in the second half was simply superb, as was Cruden’s last-ditch tackle to deny Ryan Crotty a try in the final minutes after the Crusaders had reduced the margin to one point. Even the introduction of McCaw did not dampen the Chiefs resolve to win. The win is all that more significant given that the Crusaders who were so clinical against the Reds the week before lost their composure, when it was needed the most. Cruden said: “The memory of the Crusaders’ victory over the Chiefs in Christchurch had been key in their preparation for the game.” “Our pride was damaged heavily a couple of weeks ago by a quality Crusaders side, and we really wanted to rectify that.” As in the case of the corporate world, the best lessons are learned whilst at the losing end of the game. Very few of us stop to analyse when we win and validate the reasons to continue the same game plan. Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is a recipe for failure. In the second semi-final, the Brumbies booked their place in the final courtesy of a last gasp effort by Tevita Kuridrani. The Brumbies had the better of the opening half and held a slender lead. The Bulls had many an opportunity to score but fluffed them at crucial junctures. Brumbies mercurial number seven Smith has been the mastermind of numerous Brumbies victories since first appearing for the side way back in 2000 and his memorable appearances are numerous to list. At the tender age of 33, he’s in all probability having an exceptional season and has taught other flankers a trick or two. He is considered the master controller at the breakdown, the ace at pilfering turnover ball and with great upper body strength is not someone you enjoy battling against. From a rugby spectacle it was not a great game, but take nothing away from the two teams that battled it out to the bitter end. The final are on next week between the Brumbies and the Chiefs, and it all points to a fascinating final. (The writer can be reached via scrumaf@gmail.com.)

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