The Whiteboard: Chiefs outsmart the lineout kings

The Chiefs' pre-throw shuffling took Victor Matfield out of the contest AND created the space...

The Chiefs’ pre-throw shuffling took Victor Matfield out of the contest AND created the space…

ESPNscrum.com: There’s been plenty written and said in New Zealand in recent weeks about the state of the Chiefs’ lineout, and whether it’s good enough to take them to a third consecutive Super Rugby title.

On the back of a night to forget in Pretoria last weekend, most answers to that rhetorical question have been an emphatic ‘no’. Three lineouts were lost with poor throws, and of the seven they did win on their own throw, several were affected by Bulls’ contests, most notably lineout master, Victor Matfield.

This all said, the Chiefs did put one over the Bulls late in the 34-all draw last weekend, with what would be their penultimate try of the match coming from a lineout set play, and I’ve taken a look at that play on the Whiteboard today on ESPNscrum

Power of patience delivers the unlikely Super Rugby final

Aaron Cruden celebrates the match-winner against the Crusaders. Image: ABC Grandstand

But for a pushed drop goal from Dan Carter, we could this week be talking about something that seemed so highly unlikely last week: the Brumbies hosting the Super Rugby decider in Canberra.

As it stands, we have a final that was considered only slightly less unlikely than the Brumbies playing at home, with the ACT side now heading to Hamilton to play the Chiefs on Saturday night, after having a few days at home beforehand.

The Brumbies ended the Bulls’ unbeaten playoffs run in Pretoria. Image: ABC Grandstand

Read more of my thoughts on how the Chiefs and Brumbies have won through to the Super Rugby Final, over on The Roar: http://www.theroar.com.au/2013/07/30/the-power-of-patience-delivers-the-unlikely-super-rugby-final/

ESPNscrum: Super Rugby Semi-Finals preview

Where once there were six, now we’re left with four. The table-topping Chiefs and second-placed Bulls have enjoyed their week off, and now begin their Finals Series campaigns in earnest against the Crusaders and Brumbies respectively.

If the Qualifying Finals last week was the lead-in, now Super Rugby is getting serious. The semi-final preview is now up on ESPNscrum.com..

Script followed, but with vastly contrasting styles

The Brumbies have grafted their way into the semis, holding out the Cheetahs in Canberra… (Image: ABC Grandstand)

Part one of Jake White’s master plan for a home final is complete; the Crusaders have accounted for the Reds in Christchurch, and his Brumbies have held out the fast-finishing Cheetahs in Canberra.

Interestingly, it seems the concept of knockout rugby and finals football remains lost on some people. For some reason, the expectation of teams playing for bonus points lives on into the Final Series.

..while the Crusaders blew the Reds off the park in Christchurch. Image: Crusaders Rugby

The style debate is always going to be there, it would seem.

And yes, it’s pretty hard to ignore the vastly different performances between the Crusaders and Brumbies in winning through to the next stage. And surely, at this part of the competition, the “winning through to the next stage” is the key point.

Read more on this over on The Roar: http://www.theroar.com.au/2013/07/23/script-followed-but-with-vastly-contrasting-styles/