New South Wales Waratahs will host the mighty Christchurch Crusaders in the 2014 Super 15 Rugby final. It will be a clash of the top two teams from this season's Super League standings, per SuperXV.com.
The Waratahs will be hoping that home advantage will hold sway. However, that's a dubious hope against a seasoned bunch like the Crusaders, who have beaten New South Wales in two previous finals.
Here is the relevant fixture information now that the 2014 Super 15 final has been set.
|2014 Super 15 Rugby Final Fixture Information|
|Saturday, August 2||New South Wales Waratahs||Christchurch Crusaders||ANZ Stadium, Sydney|
Both teams ensured their place in the final with dominant performances at the semi-final stage. The Crusaders went first, easily overpowering the Sharks by an emphatic 38-6 scoreline.
Strength in the back row set the early pattern for victory, per Sky Sports.
"Seldom are the Sharks outmuscled but they had no answer for Todd Blackadder's menacing troops at the AMI Stadium with the potent back-row combination of Read, Todd and Richie McCaw continually thrusting the hosts onto the front foot."
Awesome power has been a familiar formula for success for the Crusaders. Players such as skipper Kieran Reid and Jimmy McNicholl, both scorers against the Sharks, give the Crusaders a decided advantage in strength.
It's an advantage that is sure to carry over into the final against a more free-flowing Waratahs group. The Waratahs faced similar forward-thinking verve in their semi-final against Brumbies in Melbourne, as Sky Sports noted.
"If Saturday's first semi-final, which saw the Crusaders beat the Sharks 38-6, was billed as a war of the towering packs, this all-Australian affair put two of the most attacking Super Rugby sides toe-to-toe."
It's this "attack versus defence" and "flair against might" contrast in styles that will make the final so intriguing.
Here are some predictions for this year's Super 15 final:
Crusaders' Power Will Stifle the Waratahs' Attacking Instincts
When stubborn power and attacking dynamism meet, something has to give. Sadly, it's all too often the daring flair that gets trampled under foot by brute force.
That's just how this final will ultimately play out. Back-line duo Colin Slade and Dan Carter are a fearsome tandem that routinely scrap to set up mauls the Crusaders often win.
It's in those exchanges where the Waratahs may struggle to counter. They have speed and guile in the form of winger Alofa Alofa along with the versatile Kurtley Beale. Both players earned tries in the semi-final dispatching of the Brumbies.
However, the Waratahs lack the imposing size to withstand the type of steady march of muscle the Crusaders have made their trademark. That means Alofa and his attack-minded teammates might not see a lot of ball.
Crusaders Will Win Eighth Super League Title
The New South Wales defence was surprisingly stout in the semi-final. Skipper Michael Hooper told Sky Sports that solid defending saw off the Bumbies.
"Defence wins you games and it was really good tonight, really good to see the big boys doing the hard work," said Hooper.
While the out-of-character showing was impressive, the Waratahs will struggle to muster the same defiant resolve against Christchurch. The Crusaders simply boast too much imposing physicality and drive at both ends of the pack.
That quality is perfect for a slight underdog looking to produce a major upset on enemy soil. Christchurch's power is the antithesis of New South Wales' more fluid approach. The Crusaders are the ideal opponent to stifle the Waratahs.
It won't be the kind of hammering they doled out to the Sharks, but the Crusaders will upset the party and outlast the Waratahs in Sydney.