Ardie Savea's inspriational performance for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs has set him up as one of the key men in this year's Super Rugby final. Here's a look at his game...
Ardie Savea had a whale of a game against Sam Cane, the incumbent All Blacks No 7, in the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby semi-final win over the Chiefs in Wellington. From the Fox Sports footage we can see he is one of those exceptional individuals who threaten to redefine the limits of the position which they play.
Savea’s stats in the semi-final were extraordinary:
19 completed tackles with no misses. Two of Savea’s tackles could be classified as ‘dominant’ and 16 of them were one-on-one with the ball-carrier, rather than assists.
Four forced fumbles in contact. Savea forced four turnovers in contact by the strength of his tackling, two in tight situations and another two chasing down backs.
Jackaling at defensive breakdowns. Savea turned over one ball at the defensive breakdown and assisted at three others.
Two clean breaks. Savea achieved two clean line-breaks from the pick & go slot at the base of the ruck and ran for a total of 73 metres in the game as a whole, the second highest total behind Beauden Barrett.
Here are some of Savea’s highlights which illustrate what could be coming the Lions way in the Super Rugby final this weekend:
Ardie Savea support play Savea has an ‘engine’ tuned to both outright speed and sustained running power. The following example at 6:19 shows him chasing a short kick by Barrett which led to the Canes’ first try:
At 6:19 Savea is top right of the frame with only two other Hurricanes behind him as Barrett goes to kick. By 6:28 an injection of pace has seen him cruise past T.J.Perenara as the main support option, and he duly arrives first at the contact situation at 6:30 – only for Barrett to select Willis Halaholo (on Savea’s right) for the offload and subsequent try.
Ardie Savea attacking skills A long break which almost resulted in a second try for the Canes occurred at 28:48, and it showcased a full range of attacking skills by their #7. Savea first breaks through the poorly-guarded ‘boot’ of the Chiefs ruck at 28:48…
…before offsetting the Chiefs’ full-back Damian McKenzie with a superb kick-fake that buys him another 20 metres…
…and finally putting in a perfectly-weighted centering kick for T.J.Perenara to collect:
Ardie Savea in defence Savea’s work-rate in defence was demonstrated by a sequence from a Chiefs’ attacking scrum in the middle of the second half. He starts pinned to left side of the Canes set-piece as the Chiefs move the ball away:
The Chiefs bring off a neat loop play to create space down the right tram-lines, with their wing Tony Pulu now opposed by Savea who has folded beyond the last backs defender:
Savea not only makes the tackle on Pulu, he gets up quickly enough to prise the ball away in contact and secure the turnover:
Savea is demonstrating all the skills of a modern day flanker, in addition to some not usually associated with the No.7 shirt. He is fast becoming the stand-out player in Super Rugby, and if he can replicate recent performances against the Lions in the Super Rugby final on Saturday, an All Black starting Test jersey surely awaits him on August 20.
Watch the Super Rugby Final on Saturday August 6, live on Sky Sports 3 at 08:00am.