Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

First Take: The right team won a classic final

The Waratahs celebrate a try by Adam Ashley-Cooper during the Super Rugby Grand Final match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
The Waratahs celebrate a try by Adam Ashley-Cooper during the Super Rugby Grand Final match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Waratahs 33
Crusaders 32

If only a great final didn't come down to an offence called "joining a ruck incorrectly".

Apart from that, the Super 15 showdown in Sydney was a classic, and the right team - the Waratahs - won.

As the second seeds, the Crusaders had to - in effect - cross the Tasman and take the title. They didn't play well enough to do that, even though the 33 - 32 scoreline says they were very close.

Michael Cheika's Waratahs are deserved champions. They play the game with a spirit and attacking zeal that makes rugby worth watching.

In players such as Michael Hooper, Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale, they have provided more than their share of Super 15 standout players this season. The Waratahs have also restored much needed oomph to the trans-Tasman rugby rivalry.

They weren't scared off their methods in the final, and under late pressure were still moving the ball around superbly.

This was a nail biting, spine tingling and dramatic affair, played before a 60,000-plus crowd who surrounded the match with a fabulous atmosphere.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder had it all wrong. Home advantage, a big part of the Waratahs' success, was vital again.

When push came to shove, the Crusaders didn't attack well enough. Somehow they kept the score close enough - lock Sam Whitelock was outstanding - but it would have been a miracle if they had won.

Joining a ruck incorrectly is often a subjective, fine line business. A stunning try would have been a more fitting end for this game, but it was not to be.

Waratahs captain Hooper thought Bernard Foley's long winning penalty had not gone over. Just another twist to a wonderful evening.

- NZ Herald

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