My heart beats for a Kings and Brumbies winning weekend. My mind says Saturday will all be about home team success.
In Super Rugby’s final in Hamilton the Chiefs will beat the Brumbies because of home ground advantage and the bonus of no travel in the week. I don’t believe the Chiefs are a better team than the Brumbies. If this match was being played in Canberra and the Chiefs were the side returning from a play-off in South Africa I’d be going with a Brumbies win by 10 points.
Home ground advantage is worth 10 points in a home play-off, when hosting a team from another country. It is what will separate the teams in this year’s final because, played on a neutral venue and with neither side at a travel disadvantage, I wouldn’t be able to pick a winner.
The Chiefs and the Brumbies boast the two best coaching outfits in the competition and a Brumbies win would be a fairytale for former Bok coach and 2007 World Cup winning coach Jake White.
White has been immense in his two seasons at the Brumbies.
Dave Rennie has been equally influential since joining the Chiefs.
It will be a good final and it won’t be as one-sided as it would have been had the Bulls been playing. We know how awful the Bulls travel in overseas play-off matches.
Kick-off is at 9.35 am (SA time)
In Johannesburg the Lions will smash the Kings by 30 points.
The Kings’ romance with Super Rugby ended in Port Elizabeth last weekend. I’ll remember the Kings season for the wonderful South African rugby story that it was. They exceeded all expectation in their debut season. They were up against it from the outset, were unfairly hated by so many rugby supporters because of the bumbling of SARU’s administration and showed heart and character to fashion three wins and a draw in their rookie year.
The Lions, though, are the fresher of the two teams and on balance were the better in Port Elizabeth. They, on rugby merits, deserve to be the fifth franchise. Tickets were sold for R20 and a capacity crowd of 62 000 should add to a fantastic atmosphere at Ellis Park.
The Lions Rugby Union have marketed the game well, the team has done all that could be expected of them this season. The Kings have already lost their Director of Rugby, who is off to Edinburgh and five of their players confirmed moves to other provinces because of the uncertainty in Super Rugby participation.
The Kings dream, for now, is over.