Ahead of the clash between the Crusaders and Chiefs for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title, Christopher Reive looks at the three key areas to success for each side.
As Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan noted earlier this week, New Zealand is heading into its winter months, meaning things could get a little slick in Christchurch this weekend.
Whether that is through dew on the surface or rain – with Metservice predicting the possibility of a few late showers – the tactical battle is going to be an important feature of the game.
Will Scott Robertson's plan on home soil come up trumps, or can McMillan again devise a way to beat the four-time defending champions? And whose team will execute these plans more successfully?
Expect to see both teams looking to take control of the field-position battle, with in-game kicking likely to be a big feature. The game management of No 10s Bryn Gatland and Richie Mo'unga will lay the platform for their teams, but neither can be afraid to implement their running games when the opportunity is there.
Both teams have caused problems for defences with ball in hand, finishing the regular season as the top two in terms of defenders beaten. The playmaker with a better read on the game and ability to adjust accordingly could be the reason their team comes away with the title.
At just 84 per cent success rate, the Chiefs had the worst lineout in the competition. The Crusaders on the other hand had the best, bringing down 95 per cent of their throws.
It's been an area of particular concern for the Chiefs, who had a 100 per cent success rate on their own throw just twice in eight regular season games. The Crusaders hit that mark four times, but only had five of their lineouts stolen. The Chiefs saw 17 land with their opposition. Giving up extra possessions at the lineout could be disastrous in the final.
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Scrum time, however, was a rare area where the Chiefs topped the competition. Led by a resurgent season from All Blacks prop Angus Ta'avao, the Chiefs have attacked the opposition scrum with plenty of success. Both teams bring impressive packs into the game, so the battle of the front row will be well worth watching; if one can gain the upper hand, it will bring that added level of confidence through the game.
It's a final. The teams are going to take the points on offer while the game is close – or, at least, they're going to attempt to.
Neither team can afford to leave points on the table in order to build scoreboard pressure on Saturday.
For the Chiefs, Damian McKenzie is slotting them through at 83 per cent – converting 31 of his 37 shots at goal. Richie Mo'unga has a slightly worse conversion rate at 81 per cent, but has taken more shots at goal – converting 34 of his 42 attempts.
The last time the two sides met, the Crusaders scored more tries than the Chiefs – three to two – but it was the Chiefs who came away with a one-point win thanks to the boot of McKenzie, who converted four penalties and two conversions.
The Chiefs might have scored the lowest number of points and conceded the most this season, but they've shown that if they can stay close, they're primed for big finishes.