Compare there work-rate in defence to that of the Blues this season and it's like they are playing a different sport, let alone competing in the same conference! Maybe that's just a sad indictment on how poor the Blues have been though (another story altogether).
Chiefs want to create a dynasty
It's not just tactically that the Chiefs have been doing the business. Smith in particular has been fabulous in assuring fans that the Chiefs are not just a Waikato team but represent all the other provinces in the greater region. So much so that he commented on his own blog on 'the Rugby Site', when a ghost writer failed to include the likes of Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Thames Valley and King Country, even though Smith himself had made it clear. How many other coaches could you imagine doing that? Clearly Smith has a strategy for progression and a strong passion to create a culture around the franchise, which perhaps previously they lacked.
|Rennie and Smith: a happy couple|
They've done a fine job so far, turning a side notorious for a leaky defence into one of the toughest, meanest and most structured sides in the competition. What once was a team of indiciduls seems like a collective. Add in the x-factor of the likes of off-season recruit Sonny Bill Williams at centre, the new found assuredness of New Zealand's next best flyhalf Aaron Cruden and the emergence of talented youngsters Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane and you've got pretty useful side. At this time, no one can deny the fact that the Chiefs deserve their top spot in the league.
Crusaders getting their mojo back
If only it were that easy though. As well as the Chiefs have performed, Super Rugby also requires you to time your run of form for the play-offs if you want to take home the ultimate crown. That's something which the Crusaders do beautifully and 'quelle surprise', they're at it again.
After having the pleasure of watching them over the last two rounds, the signs are definitely ominous for every other rival in the competition...even the Chiefs. A few weeks ago the Crusaders surprisingly lost to the Melbourne Rebels and pundits were questioning whether they had finally lost their aura. Little did they know that the Crusaders were about to inflict two of the most dominant performances of the season. All it took was to return the world's best fly half to his number 10 shirt. Who'd have thought it? It's no slight on Tom Taylor, who had performed admirably, but the Crusaders look like a well oiled machine again with Carter at the helm.
|Guildford making a run for AB's wing|
2012 has been a season full of surprises, but one thing always remains the same. If you want to win the Super 15, you're gonna have to get past a certain team from Cantebury along the way (as the Reds proved last year). The Chiefs may be this season's pace-setters, but the Crusaders are still the team to beat. Would you bet against them?
Who do you think will win this year's Super 15?
Will the enforced break for the June International test matches have an influence on the ultimate winner? As always leave your views in the comments section below!