It would seem unlikely that the match will be a dour forward grind but dominance up front still can be decisive
If the Final can produce the sort of match that occurred in both semifinals, it will be a great Final, a match to remember, a showpiece for Super Rugby.
Last weekend, both sides played top-class opponents. The Sharks had to play the Stormers who ended top of the regular log, and won 26-19 after debilitating travel.
The Chiefs played the Crusaders, Super Rugby's most successful team and a form side again this year, and won 20-17. The Chiefs had the advantages of a week's rest and a home match.
The Sharks had had to go from Durban to Brisbane for a play-off and then the long trek back to Durban and the flight to Cape Town for their semifinal. Their victory was a great feat.
For a similar reason, their victory in the Final would be a victory of gigantic proportions - a battle not just against the exciting Chiefs but also against the grind of travel, three trips across the Indian Ocean, three trips across the breadth of Australia plus other journeys. But then the Sharks were paying the price of being the lowest qualifier of six.
The Sharks had just squeaked into the play-offs. The Brumbies lost their last match at home in Canberra to the lowly Blues. That enabled the Sharks to end on the same number of points (58) as the Brumbies. Both had 10 victories but the Sharks had the better points' difference.
The Sharks then beat the 2011 champion Reds in Brisbane, which qualified them for the a semifinal with the Stormers, unbeaten at home. The Sharks beat them convincingly.
This year the Chiefs won 12 of their 16 matches, the Sharks 10.
Down the years, the two teams have met 17 times. The Sharks have won 9, the Chiefs 8.
There is nothing much in that but if you took each side's last five matches before the play-offs, momentum would seem to be with the Sharks who won four of those five matches while the Chiefs won two.
The Sharks are playing with great energy and confidence. The Chiefs are playing with great energy and confidence. Forget travel and home ground, just look at the two teams, and there is not much to choose between them.
The Sharks may well have the edge in the tight forwards and may even have the livelier and more varied loose forwards but the Chiefs look to have the game breakers amongst the backs. The way the semifinals went it would seem unlikely that the match will be a dour forward grind but dominance up front still can be decisive.
That means that the forward clash is likely to be fierce. Both sides have men that can scrap, though one fervently hopes that there will not be the unseemly brawling that there was last weekend in Hamilton.
When the Sharks and the Chiefs met in Durban earlier this year, the set pieces were tidy. Of 17 scrums there were no resets and just one penalty. Of the 11 Chiefs' throws into line-outs none was lost but the Sharks lost two of their 12.
The Chiefs have had line-out problems of late, especially when captain Craig Clarke is away, but he will be there on Saturday and the Chiefs' main source of line-out ball while the Sharks rely heavily on Ryan Kankowski who may just be playing the best rugby of his career of late.
When the Sharks played the Stormers their kicking game was much better than that of the Stormers. It will have to be spot on against the Chiefs for Robbie Robinson has the ability to cut them to pieces on counter-attack.
Goal-kicking always counts and both sides have accurate kickers in Aaron Cruden, Frédéric Michalak and Patrick Lambie with Meyer Bosman who may have a go from further out.
Players to Watch:
For the Chiefs: You will see and be aware of Sonny Bill Williams of the Chiefs and there have been great, telling performances by their halves, Aaron Cruden and big Tawera Kerr-Barlow who was magnificent against the Crusaders with his controlled skill and strength. In the pack burly Sona Taumalolo is the big character - and he scores tries.
For the Sharks: Of the Sharks' backs JP Pietersen has been outstanding with his speed, strength and confidence and they have devilishly clever Frédéric Michalak at flyhalf with his French penchant for kicking drop goals. In their pack they have the barnstorming strength of Willem Albert and the energy of Marcell Coetzee but the most obvious of their forwards is liable to be strong, wholly committed Bismarck du Plessis.
Head to Head: The battle of the scrumhalves is always interesting - strong, determined Tawera Kerr-Barlow, a player with initiative, and lively, will-o'-the-wisp Charl McLeod. Then there is clever Aaron Cruden against happy Frédéric Michalak at flyhalf. But the biggest interest amongst the backs will be Sonny Bill Williams and whoever of the Sharks will be marking him. If it is teenaged Paul Jordaan, just back from injury, he could have a tough old time and may not be able to expect too much help from Michalak. When they played the Stormers, the Sharks from time to time shunted Pietersen to the wing and brought Louis Ludik to do the tackling in the centre. That could work - and then there is the robust tackling of Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts. Whatever they do, they should heed the prediction of William Butler Yeats: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." Not that he was talking about rugby!
The clash of the two front rows may be telling - young Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger and Sona Taumalolo against Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira. Money on the Sharks.
Of course all of this could be upset by injuries, and in recent times the Sharks are the ones more affected by injuries.
2012: Chiefs beat Sharks 18-12 in Durban
2011: Chiefs won 15-9 in Hamilton
2010: Chiefs won 19-18 in Durban
2009: Sharks won 22-15 in Hamilton
2008: Sharks won 47-25 in Durban
2007: Chiefs won 35-27 in Hamilton
Road to the Final
Chiefs in 2012
Highlanders: lost 19-23 in Hamilton
Blues: won 29-14 in Hamilton
Crusaders: won 24-19 in Napier
Brumbies: won 29-22 in Hamilton
Waratahs: won 30-13 in Hamilton
Force: won 20-12 in Perth
Cheetahs: won 39-33 in Bloemfontein
Sharks: won 18-12 in Durban
Hurricanes: won 33-14 in Hamilton
Lions: won 34-20 in Hamilton
Reds: lost 27-42 in Brisbane
Bulls: won 28-22 in Hamilton
Blues: won 41-34 in Auckland
Highlanders: won 27-21 in Dunedin
Crusaders: lost 21-28 in Hamilton
Hurricanes: lost 25-28 in Wellington
Crusaders: won 20-17 in Hamilton
Sharks in 2012
Bulls: lost 13-18 in Pretoria
Stormers: lost 12-15 at Newlands
Lions: won 32-20 in Durban
Reds: won 27-22 in Durban
Waratahs: lost 30-34 in Sydney
Brumbies: won 29-26 in Canberra
Hurricanes : lost 18-42 in Wellington
Blues: won 29-23 in Auckland
Chiefs: lost 12-18 in Durban
Highlanders: won 28-16 in Durban
Force: won 53-11 in Durban
Cheetahs: won 34-20 in Bloemfontein
Stormers: won 25-20 in Durban
Lions: lost 28-38 in Johannesburg
Bulls: won 32-10 in Durban
Cheetahs: won 34-16 in Durban
Reds: won 30-17 in Brisbane
Stormers: won 26-19 at Newlands
Prediction: Surely travel will play a big part. Last year the Crusaders crossed the Indian Ocean to win their semifinal but then they lost to the Reds in Brisbane in the Final - two crossings and lost. The Sharks have crossed three times in 19 days. The last time the Chiefs played outside of New Zealand was on 13 May in Brisbane. Their last crossing of the Indian Ocean was on 22 April. All things considered, taking into account the Chiefs restful entry into the Final, we predict that the Chiefs will win by 12 points or more.
The only certainty is that on Saturday there will be a new king of Super Rugby. Long live the king!
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.
Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
Date: Saturday, 4 August 2012
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Expected weather conditions: Partly cloudy with a few showers, easterly breezes with a high of 16°C, dropping to 6°C.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa, Keith Brown (New Zealand)
TMO: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
By Paul Dobson