Super Rugby Final: Coaches see tactical battle as key to victory
Last Updated: 03/08/13 2:02pm
Following a fiercely contested Super Rugby final which saw the Chiefs triumph 27-22 in Hamilton on Saturday, both coaching teams have praised the tactical battle which took place.
Jake White, the 2007 World Cup-winning Springboks coach, and his assistant Laurie Fischer took a Brumbies team wearied by weeks of continuous travel into one final effort as they chased a third Super Rugby title.
The Brumbies' game plan was executed to perfection in the opening period as Christian Leali'ifano seized every opportunity presented to give the visitors a 19-6 lead over the defending champions at half-time.
Having spent the first half on the back foot, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie and his assistant Wayne Smith, who coached the 2011 World Cup-winning All Blacks, were forced to revise their strategy to engineer a comeback after the break.
"The Brumbies were brilliant, I thought," Smith said. "They were tough at the breakdown. We had to change our structure at half-time.
"We had to get our third man to get over the ball and hold there, which we don't usually do, and then we decided to pick through the middle which made us get numbers to the breakdown and that was the key in the end.
"We did that pretty well. I love coaching this mob. Only one try against us tonight, and that was off an intercept. The guts these guys show week after week is incredible."
After a week of travelling between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand the Brumbies made an exceptional effort to dominate play for 60 minutes before the Chiefs dominance came to the fore.
"We were exceptionally brave," Brumbies coach Fischer said. "We just made a couple of poor decisions, a couple of panic moments in the second half.
"The Chiefs were strong and the crowd got behind them. But in terms of effort and intensity, I thought we turned up magnificently."
The nature of the Super Rugby draw kept the sides apart all season, but Fischer admitted the Brumbies had made thorough preparations having carefully studied the Chiefs' style of play.
"They've been the best team in the tournament over the past two years, and I think there was always a good chance we were going to play them in the final," he added. "We worked hard and we had the winning of the game.
"But credit to the Chiefs to take it away from us, though we made enough errors to be our own worst enemy. It's enormously disappointing again.
"We came here to win, we thought we would win, but we lost to a very, very good Chiefs side."