The Chiefs were crowned the 2012 Super Rugby champions after a dominating display of rugby in Hamilton New Zealand last weekend against a tired Sharks outfit 37-6.
It was always going to be a tough battle for the Sharks who had defeated the highest ranked team in Australia then flying straight back to South Africa to put away the Stormers before jumping on another flight back to New Zealand when their luck finally ran out.
The Sharks looked formidable for the first twenty minuted of the match unsettling the confident Chiefs with their robust defence on a wet pitch which made the football hard to control but credit to both teams because they handled the greasy conditions very well.
The Sharks put first points on the scoreboard when No.10 Frederic Michalak, who was playing his last game for the South African franchise, kicked a penalty goal in the 6th minute of play which reflected their control of the match at this point.
The Chiefs seemed jaded after a tough match last week against the Crusaders and they took the field without the intensity that you would expect from a New Zealand side.
But that all changed in the 19th minute when Chiefs winger Tim Nanai-Williams scored after Aaron Cruden ignited the Chiefs back line when he chipped over the top of the Sharks defence bringing the Chiefs back into the game and from this moment onwards the Sharks looked frail and constantly under pressure.
Cruden converted the try and added a couple of penalty goals to give the Chiefs a handy half time lead 13-3 with the flow of the game dramatically favouring the Chiefs who had recovered from their early inertia.
If the Sharks were ever going to compete in this Super Rugby final they had to score first in the second half but unfortunately the Chiefs lifted the tempo of the game and the task for the Sharks looked bleak when Chiefs lock Kane Thompson scored five minutes into the second half which was converted by Cruden to stretch the lead to 20-3.
Last weekend in Cape Town the Sharks big men simply out muscled the Stormers in every facet of the match but the outrageous travel demands finally paid its toll with the Sharks finding it hard to keep up with the pace of the game.
Two more tries to Lelia Masaga in the 61st minute and Sonny Bill Williams in the 71st minute crowned a fabulous year for the Chiefs who under coach Dave Rennie started the season with a radical cleanout with thirteen new faces at the franchise.
The arrival of these new players singled the start of a new era at the Chiefs as they formed a brotherhood to mould the masterpiece that was completed last Saturday evening with an emphatic victory against the heavily jet-lagged Sharks.
This year has be a huge transition for the Chiefs which finished 10th last season winning only six matches and loosing ten which is a credit to the vision of Rennie and his coaching staff which included an old mate of mine, former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith.
Under Smith, Aaron Cruden has developed his game to the point the he is now a serious contender of the All Blacks No.10 jersey just behind Daniel Carter.
Last year I also thought the Sonny Bill Williams was out of his depth playing centre for the All Blacks but with Smith calling the tune Williams has improved his game 100% and it will be a sad moment for New Zealand rugby when he heads back to rugby league at the end of the Rugby Championship.
In big games it is often said that defence wins matches and the Chiefs were simply outstanding against the Sharks who never looked like getting across the Chiefs try line.
The Sharks can’t go without a mention. Whilst they were outplayed for most of the match the competition format did them no favours at all.
Travelling from Durban to Brisbane to Cape Town to Hamilton was madness.
No team could hope to overcome such as exhausting schedule having knocked over the best in Australia and South Africa had thrown at them, New Zealand was one hurdle too much.
Every one of the Chiefs was on the same page in last weekend’s final and has he has done all season, Aaron Cruden led the Chiefs in attack and his back it up with a master class kicking display.
The Chiefs were worthy Super Rugby winners in 2012 and now the question must be asked, will the All Blacks dominate the Rugby Championship which starts when they play the Wallabies in Sydney on August 18?