It was one game too far for the Sharks as the Chiefs were more than convincing in their home final, taking the 2012 Super Rugby title with a 37-6 win in Hamilton. The Chiefs have since credited the culture within the franchise.
The Chiefs have now joined an elite group of teams to have won the title, namely the Crusaders, Bulls, Blues, Brumbies, and Reds. While they made the final in 2009, this has been their strongest year and came about through changes in personnel, including a debutant coach, Dave Rennie.
“They’ve been a fantastic group to work with and deserve all the success they’ve got,” he said.
“The culture has been fantastic. They are a very tight group and enjoy each other’s company, and they’ve worked hard for each other. We targeted guys we thought would work hard for us and were willing to do a bit of graft, hit rucks and so on.
“We picked guys who probably weren’t as heralded as others in the competition. But they’ve really stood up, and we’ve got some great young kids and we’ve got some established players who went to another level this year. The leadership within the group was fantastic and that made a big difference,” Rennie added.
It was the Sharks’ third straight playoff match away from home and they looked weary as they were unable to get their game together in the wet conditions, making some uncharacteristic errors. The Sharks have now lost in four Super Rugby finals.
By contrast the Chiefs scored four tries through Tim Nanai-Williams, Kane Thompson, Lelia Masaga, and the departing Sonny Bill Williams, who celebrated by diving into the crowd. Williams and Sona Taumalolo are leaving, but the Chiefs are well positioned to have a very healthy future.