Super Rugby Final: Head-to-heads

Date published: August 2 2013

Ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby Final, we take a look through some of the key match-ups between the Chiefs and Brumbies.

Ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby Final, we take a look through some of the key match-ups between players from the Chiefs and Brumbies.

The Chiefs have answered all of their critics from before the start of the season, who questioned whether they could reach the Super Rugby summit again without the presence of Sonny Bill Williams in midfield.

Playing under a “no-frills” reputation can't disguise the fact that players such as Liam Messam, Aaron Cruden and Lelia Masaga have all been in outstanding form for the Chiefs so far in 2013. It has been around that core, not to mention the influence of Craig Clarke and Tanareu Latimer, that they find themselves going for another trophy.

The Brumbies on the other hand are the epitome of youth. Old heads are present in the evergreen George Smith, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander and Clyde Rathbone, but predominantly the Brumbies are a young group nurtured by Jake White for success.

Youth has been at the heart of all their good work. Jesse Mogg and Christian Lealiifano have gone on to play for the Wallabies, whilst the crop of Nic White, Matt Toomua, Sam Carter and Scott Sio are all waiting for chances of their own to wear the green and gold.

Here are five head-to-heads worth considering:

Ben Tameifuna v Scott Sio

Having taken his spot in the try-scoring throne left vacant by Sona Taumalolo at the end of last season, “Big Ben” Tameifuna was weighed in with six tries so far in 2013 and done so in style.

An early retirement in last week's semi-final against the Crusaders came when he was struggling a touch against Wyatt Crockett, but Tameifuna is a battler and should be expected to come out firing against the Brumbies.

Recognised as one of the brightest front-row prospects in Australian Rugby, Sio is reaching the end of a breakthrough season with the Brumbies that should see him heavily involved in the Rugby Championship with the Wallabies.

Able to produce in open play as well as hold his own in the scrum, the 21-year old has flourished under White's tenure in charge of the Brumbies over the last two seasons and is one to keep an eye on.

Liam Messam v George Smith

In excellent form throughout 2013, the back-row pair of George Smith and Liam Messam both impressed enough to warrant selection for the Wallabies and All Blacks respectively.

Messam has made more metres per carry and averages more clean breaks, but Smith however has linked up more effectively with his team-mates and been more efficient at offloading in the contact area.

The two stars also differ when it comes to their work at the breakdown and in defence. Messam has made considerably more tackles and at a higher success rate, but Smith's prowess at the breakdown, where he has won a turnover every 41.7 minutes, is only bettered, surprisingly, by Robert Ebersohn.

Aaron Cruden v Matt Toomua

Any fly-half that outplays Dan Carter in a crucial semi-final must be doing something right. Aaron Cruden has long been left in the great man's shadow, but 2013 has been his year.

Only Bernard Foley has made more try assists than Cruden's 11, but it was a try of his own, last week's interception against the Crusaders no less, that brought the Chiefs through to back-to-back finals.

Toomua is yet to grace the international stage but certainly has ambitions to do so, earmarked by many in the Australian media as a future Wallaby fly-half. When the pressure was on at Loftus, he found the gap to create Tevita Kuridrani's match-winning score.

Part of a talented young triumvirate alongside Nic White and Christian Lealiifano, Toomua's kicking game and control have been key to any Brumbies success thus far.

Lelia Masaga v Henry Speight

Long-time Chiefs flyer Lelia Masaga is settling sail for Japan at the end of this campaign, but it's safe to say his excellent celebrations and elusive skills will be missed in Super Rugby next season.

Masaga issued a reminder of his class in the semi-final with his try against the Crusaders, barrelling his way through tacklers to put the champions in front, from where they never looked back.

Speight, surprisingly only a year younger than Masaga, has been producing similar moments all season. With everyone in Australia desperate to see the Fijian flyer finally qualify to represent the Wallabies, the 25-year-old has persistently impressed with eight tries and a sublime assist for Mogg against the Bulls in the semi-final.

Speight averages more carries per game but Masaga has been the more elusive, making more metres per carry and beating more defenders on average.

Speight has also crossed for more tries in 2013 with 8 – only Frank Halai (10) has more to his name. Speight has actually also made the joint-most tackles by a winger this season (65) at an impressive success rate of 82%.

Gareth Anscombe v Jesse Mogg

Gareth Anscombe fought his way back to full fitness after missing nine weeks of the regular season due to a broken foot to win a starting spot for the Chiefs in the final.

Before that layoff he was the first player this season in Super Rugby to reach 100 points, a feat the reflected his try scoring antics as well as his ability off the kicking tee as he enjoyed a fine start with his new side following his transfer from the Blues.

Comfortable at fly-half but excelling at full-back, Anscombe is an underrated player who can make an impact on this final.

Jesse Mogg knows all about making an impact having produced plenty of spectacular scores in his two years in Brumbies colours so far.

He backed up his potential in the third Test with a fine performance against the British and Irish Lions, only Geoff Parling's outstretched hand doing enough to stop the flying Mogg from changing the outlook of the match.

One of those players that always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time, Mogg's searing speed can trouble the Chiefs if he is brought into the game often.