The man of the hour goes to Sam Whitelock on the Crusaders second row (No.5). Not only he’s extremely tall, but also has extreme physicality, leadership, and also someone who can bring home trophies every year. He did so well to stop the Chiefs where he exposed their isolated display via the ill-discipline & counter-attack. Then he made the most out of his side’s attack with patience such as the scrum, line-outs/maul & most importantly through open play – that’s how he helped them bow out on top. Yes, he still has some unfinished business with the All Blacks soon. But he too will missed as they can hopefully keep on winning based on the legacy he instilled in this squad.
There’s another standout Crusaders star in No.2 Codie Taylor who scored back-to-back tries tonight. Gotta say that he has both the championship-winning expertise & the powerful physicality needed to push + stop the Chiefs out of his way before he lifted the trophy once again. The throw-ins at line-out time were amazing every time Crusaders have the ball on hand, particularly off the back of some winning penalties. It gave him ample time to assemble such a robust maul before he was able to see the light through the score zone. After all the hard work he’s done thanks to his side’s dominant possession as well as defending from Chiefs’ counter under pressure, he’s not going anywhere with 2 years left on his contract at age 32.
And Alex Nankivell did the best to push his Chiefs side over the finish line at No.13 (Outside Centre). He’s got a great physical frame who can direct those quick passes while looking to help get past through the channels, having assisted the tries of Shaun Stevenson & Eroni Narawa where they’ve backed him up with pace off his back three. Plus, he can lend a helping hand to his side’s scrambled defense, having frustrated the Saders at times. But sadly, they just couldn’t hold on under pressure + their ill-discipline let them down big time before it was too late. He too will be missed as he will play for Munster in Ireland starting this October.