Five lessons from the Super Rugby final between the Waratahs and Crusaders in Sydney, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Small margins can decide finals
It was Richie McCaw's breakdown indiscretion that gave Bernard Foley the opportunity to slot a last-gasp, title-winning 45m penalty on Saturday, but South African referee Craig Joubert could easily have penalised the Tahs for using hands in the ruck moments earlier. Make no mistake, the Tahs are worthy champions, but with a bit of luck the Crusaders could have been celebrating an eighth title. 'It was 50-50 I thought, it could have gone either way,' said Todd Blackadder of that last penalty. 'It comes down to those moments doesn't it? There was nothing between the sides.'
TMOs must be held accountable for their mistakes
Had the Crusaders won, the Waratahs would have blamed Australian TMO George Ayoub for awarding a try to Nemani Nadolo when the winger put a foot into touch before grounding the ball. You can't blame Michael Cheika for going berserk in the coach's box as it allowed the visitors to level the scores at 20-20 at a crucial stage of the game. Ayoub should be punished for that mistake by not being allowed anywhere near a TMO booth for the foreseeable future.
A good defensive system can be disrupted by using the full width of the field
The Waratahs took the Crusaders by surprise early on by sending the ball wide instead of attacking up the middle. They played at a quick pace and their passing was outstanding, no more so when Kurtley Beale's long effort put Foley away. The Saders were simply not given time to reorganise their defence, which is how the straight running Adam Ashley-Cooper ended up scoring his first try.
Finals don't need to be dour affairs
In deciders, teams often play not to lose, but on Saturday the Waratahs and Crusaders both played to win. The result was a fabulous final that produced four tries and plenty of drama. It was a great advertisement for the game, and will hopefully help rugby union in Australia to gain the ground it has lost on rugby league, Aussie rules and soccer since the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Jacques Potgieter made the right decision to sign for the Waratahs
Potgieter was used as a battering ram when he was at the Bulls, but has become a well-rounded player at the Waratahs, showing some deft touches with ball in hand. Potgieter had a good 50 minutes on Saturday before being replaced by Will Skelton and got his hands on the Super Rugby trophy half an hour later. There was talk of the 28-year-old returning to the Bulls, but he'd be wise to stay in Sydney where he has flourished.
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