Last Saturday evening, the Queensland Reds overwhelmed the Blues with their ferocity at the breakdown and in the tackle, combined with their breathtaking attack.
Just as ferocious at the breakdown and in the tackle, and using Carter’s ability to release his potent backline, the Crusaders gave the Stormers no chance either.
The two best teams are in the final. Both are potentially great teams. It is the perfect recipe for a great game.
Both teams are capable of playing overwhelming, exciting rugby in attack and defence. That is how they’ve got to the final.
There is very little between these two teams. They are both well coached and well led. Both have very good goal kickers.
Both teams can play multiple tactical games and can attack from most parts of the field. Often they will make progress up field. On occasions, it won’t come off and the opposition will find themselves with the ball and in great field position.
There will not be many opportunities in the game.
There are many points of comparison and analysis that could be used to argue the outcome of the upcoming epic encounter.
Who will win the breakdown? Whose backs will triumph? Whose defence will nullify the other’s attack? Whose set piece will triumph?
I expect that each team will have passages of dominance in each of these areas only for the other team to then dominate. The critical question is: Which team will be able to play their A game for the greatest duration?
The team that does will win, because both are playing with such confidence that they will convert their opportunities into points.
In addition to their opponent, each team has must also clear the hurdle of playing their best rugby for the greatest amount of game time.
The young, inexperienced Reds team could seize up on the big occasion. The Crusaders could run out of legs as their onerous travel schedule takes effect.
There is no evidence that the Reds will seize up. They have won two games in South Africa and beaten the best of the New Zealand teams this season.
Saturday night’s performance against the Blues was exhilarating for all concerned, even the staunchest Waratahs fans.
They beat the Blues at their own game. Their direct running was in stark contrast to the crossfield attack of the Blues. The Reds outran the Blues.
The Crusaders had won their semi-final against the Stormers by the 60th minute, if not before. Did they slow down the ferocious pace in the final 20 minutes or did they run out of puff?
They are carrying the load of a second 12 hour flight and eight time zones each way in seven days, along with the inevitable, mind-altering jet lag.
This is why the Reds have a reason not to ever give up in this week’s game, no matter how far behind they are on the scoreboard.
I believe the two will go toe to toe, until the travel slowly but surely catches up with the brave and highly motivated Crusaders around the 60th minute.
The winners will enhance their country’s quest to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup.