Chiefs outmuscle Brumbies to set up Super Rugby final with Crusaders

Chiefs' Luke Jacobson is tackled during their Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday

Chiefs' Luke Jacobson is tackled during their Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday. Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP

Published Jun 17, 2023


Wellington — The Waikato Chiefs outmuscled the ACT Brumbies 19-6 on Saturday to set up an all-New Zealand clash in the Super Rugby Pacific final against the Canterbury Crusaders.

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick crossed for the only try of a grinding semi-final encounter with two minutes remaining to seal victory and ensure Hamilton will also host next Saturday's final.

Retallick was one of just two survivors from the Chiefs side that last won a Super Rugby title, when they defended their crown in 2013.

The Chiefs lost only once in the regular season to qualify first for the knock-out phase.

The final will be a fascinating contest, laden with All Blacks and featuring a Crusaders side chasing a seventh successive crown after coming off a 52-15 semi-final trouncing of the Auckland Blues on Friday.

Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber was relieved after his team notched a 15th win from 16 matches.

"I feel like we have probably won in every way possible this season and that was a hell of a grind against a good Brumbies team," said Weber, who is poised to join Stade Francais.

"Couldn't ask for anything more than that, (I'm) stoked that it's against the Crusaders too, they have been the benchmark for what feels like 90 percent of my career.

"If we want to be the best, we have to beat the best."

Wet conditions in Hamilton created a conservative spectacle, with neither the Chiefs nor Brumbies prepared to take risks.

The game became a tactical contest, with both sides kicking often, choosing not to run the ball at defensive lines that were offering few chinks.

Outside half Damian McKenzie was again a key figure for the Chiefs, landing all four of his penalty shots and converting Retallick's try, which he helped to set up with a half-break.

McKenzie's boot put the hosts 6-3 ahead at halftime, while opposite Noah Lolesio landed penalties for the Brumbies either side of the interval.

Wallabies playmaker Lolesio entered the game late in the first half as a replacement for the injured Jack Debreczeni.

The wait for another title goes on for the Brumbies, who were crowned champions in 2001 and 2004.

Captain Nic White praised the spirit of Australia's only team to qualify for the semi-finals.

"We knew it was going to be a hell of a wrestle, we said all week we were going to come over here and throw everything at them and we did," he said.

"Fair play to them, they held on, we held on — it was always going to come down to one moment. They are a good side, but certainly we did everything we could out there."


Related Topics: