Super 15 Final 2013: Complete Predictions for Chiefs vs. Brumbies Clash
Saturday marks the pinnacle of the Super XV season as the Chiefs host the Brumbies in the 2013 Grand Final at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Having topped the regular season table, the Chiefs are firm favourites to retain the title they won so convincingly 12 months ago.
That victory came against the Sharks and was the New Zealanders' first triumph at their second attempt in a final.
Although the Brumbies have enjoyed more success, claiming two Super Rugby titles after reaching five finals, the Australian outfit haven't reached this stage since their 2004 win over the Crusaders.
Here's a look at some last-minute predictions for the showpiece event.
Christian Lealiifano's Kicking Keeps Brumbies Close
With 200 points to his name, mostly via the boot, Christian Lealiifano has been hugely instrumental to the Brumbies' form this season.
He was third top points scorer during the regular season and the Brumbies' best hopes for the final rely on his ice-cool kicking and their forwards shutting down the Chiefs' expansive brand of attack.
To do this, they must play in their opponents' half, dominate the set-piece—especially the Chiefs' sometimes fallible lineout—and stay in position for Lealiifano to keep the scoreboard moving.
The longer they keep this a tight, nervy affair, the greater the chance of an upset.
Chiefs Pull Away in the Second Half
There's no doubting which side possesses the greater flair and attacking nous in this final, as the statistics on SuperXV.com fully reveal. With Aaron Cruden pulling the Chiefs' strings at fly-half, his side made more clean breaks (148) by the end of the regular season than any other side.
They also scored the most tries (50) and scored more points (458) than any other team, highlighting the task facing the Brumbies this weekend.
After a cagey opening, expect the game to become more fragmented in the second period, during which the Chiefs will have more chance to express themselves.
This was the case in their semifinal, and broken play is where the likes of Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Lelia Masaga—fitness permitting—are at their most lethal, with the extra time needed to make the decisive breaks.
Who do you think will win the trophy?
Chiefs to Retain Title
If the Brumbies succeed with their game plan and stifle the Chiefs until the latter stages, there are still several other factors that may prevent them crossing the line.
The Brumbies upset the Bulls in Pretoria in the semifinal, but no team has lifted the trophy after making the long journey back from South Africa. As well as the considerable physical exertions from playing the Bulls, the players will be trying to rid their body of the additional fatigue caused by this travel.
On top of that, winning the final on foreign soil has only been achieved on one occasion, by the Crusaders in 2000. If the game stays close, expect Waikato's fervent home support to prove influential.
Final Prediction: Chiefs 27-18 Brumbies
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