The Brumbies will head to Waikato Stadium to face the WaikatoChiefs in the Super 15 final on Saturday night following their nail-biting 26-23 win over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld early Sunday morning. The Brumbies displayed impressive resolve to overcome a powerful Bulls outfit and a rabid home crowd. The victory is even more impressive when you consider that no team in history had beaten the Bulls in a finals game at home.
The Brumbies led 16-11 at half-time until surrendering the lead in the 60th minute. The home-side had all the running in the final 20 minutes but inexplicably turned down three kickable penalties, booting into touch instead, hoping to pin the Brumbies down in their own half. The audacious tactics backfired, however, when Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua sliced through a gap in the tiring Bulls defence 2 minutes from full-time, setting up outside centre Tevita Kuridrani for the match-winning try and silencing the vocal Loftus faithful in the process.
On Saturday night the Brumbies will face another momentous challenge as they aim to be the first foreign team to win an away grand final in New Zealand and the first team since the 1999 Crusaders to win the title from outside the top two.
South African born Brumbies coach Jake White is well aware of the challenge faced by his young team. "It's going to be an uphill battle that has never been done before," White said. "But there are a lot of things that haven't been done by teams before and the Brumbies have done them week in, week out."
The Chiefs are the current champions and will be defending their crown on Saturday in Hamilton, while the Brumbies will be playing for their third title and first since 2004. One gets the sense, however, that should the Brumbies prevail over the table-topping Chiefs it will be their sweetest victory yet. And another slice of history.
Adam Schoenmaker is a pastor in in his local church in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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