Super 15 Rugby Final 2014: Fixture Info, Predictions for Waratahs vs. Crusaders

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2014

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 26:  Kieran Read of the Crusaders breaks through a tackle during the Super Ruby Semi Final match between the Crusaders and the Sharks at AMI Stadium on July 26, 2014 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
Martin Hunter/Getty Images

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

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 2New South Wales WaratahsChristchurch CrusadersANZ 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.

The Waratahs play an attacking brand of rugby.
The Waratahs play an attacking brand of rugby.Matt King/Getty Images

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.

Alofa Alofa is a dangerous and fleet-footed outlet for the Waratahs.
Alofa Alofa is a dangerous and fleet-footed outlet for the Waratahs.Rob Griffith/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

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.

Few teams can match the Crusaders for power.
Few teams can match the Crusaders for power.Martin Hunter/Getty Images

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.