Winning swansong as five exit Chiefs

Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:58
Large craig clarke chiefs Large lelia masaga chiefs Large craig clarke   dave rennie

The defending champion Chiefs will be looking to produce the perfect parting gift to five players.

The defending champion Chiefs will be looking to produce the perfect parting gift to five players.

However, they will be keen to stay focussed on the job at hand - beating the Brumbies in the Super Rugby Final in Hamilton on Saturday, rather than getting caught up in the hype of the occasion.

Five senior Chiefs will leave for offshore contracts, following Saturday's grand finale against the two-time champion Brumbies.

Co-captain Craig Clarke (to Ireland), prop Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels) and wing Lelia Masaga (Japan) all made key contributions in the 20-19 semifinal win over the Crusaders at the weekend.

They are set to be part of the side who return to Waikato Stadium to chase a second successive title.

Injured centre Richard Kahui (Japan) and another All Black, scrumhalf Brendon Leonard (Italy), have already played their last game after lengthy stints at Waikato and the Chiefs.

Coach Dave Rennie is anxious that the players' contribution be acknowledged, but said ideally it will wait until after the game.

"There will be some sentimental stuff in and around the boys leaving. But the focus will be on performance, it has to be," Rennie said.

Clarke topped the match tackle count against the Crusaders with 16, followed closely by Smith's 13 as the hosts' tight five went toe-to-toe with an All Blacks-laden pack.

Masaga's key contribution was their opening try soon after half-time, handing the Chiefs the lead for the first time.

Before scoring, he blasted through the tackle of Crusaders flank George Whitelock, the man with whom he shares the same lone Test appearance, against Italy in 2009.

"He's a bit chubby so I thought I'd get over him with my pace," Masaga smiled.

"The opportunity came to me and, funnily enough, I saw the red sea part."

The player known as "Flash" was determined to make the most of some space after listening to a rev-up from the Chiefs' coaches at half-time.

Their message was to simply run harder with ball.

Source: NZ Newswire

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