Still the fact that they were playing the ACT Brumbies was of interest. I remember the S12 final of 2 years ago, and the game this season. You would think that a joker would get sick of 1 point margins, but I find as long as your side wins it is not so bad! (Bit of a bummer for the Brumbies' fans though)
So there we were just a select few close friends, most of whom I had met before. I hadn't seen Cone Stadium so well prepared: the stands were carefully placed around the room, temporary seating had been added behind the Green Stand, and the coffee table had been moved to one side to allow further seating. Or enough space for impromptu bowing in homage to the R&Bs.
I did have a bit of concern about the aisle space provided for fire escapes, but I then realised that DH (who was in the most danger of spontaneous combustion) was sitting close to an exit - so that danger had been minimised!
But then the game began and I would happily have sat through a fatal blaze to view it!
What a beauty of a game: proof once more that rugby is one of the few sports that can supply grand finals that are worth watching!
As it turned out the wind was the major factor in this, as "into the wind" both sides tried to keep the ball in hand. I presume that Thorne won the toss and chose direction. It was an excellent call. The forwards looked a bit slow off the mark last week, and there is nothing like asking them to drive the ball into wind to get them focused on the game.
The silly thing is that the Brumbies didn't start using positional kicking until late in the half. Can't say that I understand that. I'm not a big fan on kicking the possession away, but its always fun to watch the opposition forwards do all that work, just to turn around again. Maybe the Brumbies backs are sadists rather than voyeurs?
Certainly the R&Bs were handing out big hits like a "Music CD warehouse" sale. They didn't seem to have too much concern for the general welfare of either their opposition or themselves. I heard Richard McCaw on Monday saying that he was glad that he was playing for the R&Bs simply because he wasn't taking those hits.
I'm sorry that Larkham got broken, that double-jointed angle test wasn't the thing to try in the middle of a rugger match. Most unfortunate... but that young guy they brought on seemed competent enough. Not enough to score fifteen tries fortunately, but otherwise he wasn't found wanting.
Are you sick of people saying Merhts had another good game? OK then I won't mention it.
As for other players, I read a good review of how all the players went at the following address:
The game developed into one where I would have been confident with a small lead (say 4 points) but it still had moments of real drama, with the Brumbies closing to within 1 point at just the right time to keep the excitement high.
There was a fair amount of tension around Cone stadium, from DH not being able to watch the first penalty attempt, right through to the amount of noise generated with each of the Crusaders tries. It's true to say there was an element of "believe that we will win when we see it". I personally think this is the way sport should be.
Not to say that we don't recall the Wallytah's game with some fondness... but this game had something for all Super 12 fans.
If nothing more, South Africans could admire the fine work of Andre Watson, the Aussies weren't out of the game until Ralph's first try and should have enjoyed some hope for most of the game. Non-Crusader NZers would have been able to support a R&B team that played with real skill and determination, and better still beat those darn Aussies!
The most memorable moment for me was Chris Jack scooping up the loose ball and running through the backs, he was side-stepping between postal zones as he did it!
Combine that with his takes against the throw and his normal excellent scrum, ruck and maul work and he was easily the man of the match. He is starting to make Norm Maxwell look like his understudy !-)
If Jack could bounce a round ball, he would be earning millions in the USA.
If you are reading this Chris, ah... don't play basketball mate, because... ah... it isn't a game that we can beat the Aussies at!
Damn, that argument won't work anymore!