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Chiefs happy to defy critics

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Sportal.co.nz     04 Aug 2013     Getty Images

For Aaron Cruden and the Chiefs, Saturday's 27-22 win over the Brumbies was a chance to prove themselves once and for all. They are the real deal.

Speaking to reporters following the come-from-behind thriller, Cruden admitted there would always be those critical of the Waikato franchise. Having secured the last two Super Rugby titles, however, those doubts should be erased.

"There's always going to be critics and people saying, 'you can't do this, you can't do that,' but as a group we just have to keep working hard," said Cruden.

"We know our ability and we've got a lot of self belief - I think that's def shown in the last couple of years and next year we'll be looking for another one."

Having overcome the widespread cynicism ahead of their semi-final clash with the Crusaders – a match the defending champions won 20-19 – support for the Chiefs spread quickly.

The final had sold out within hours of going on sale, and members of the public dressed in red, black, yellow – complete with cowbells in tow – to steer their side home.

Cruden said the crowd of over 25,000 had been their '16th man' in the match that ultimately got them home.

The first five-eighths had an indifferent night with the boot, but came good when it mattered to slot a key penalty towards the end of the match that inflated the hosts' lead to five.

Cruden added the side's ability to overcome a 12-point deficit spoke volumes of his side's tenacity that was on display in the one-point thriller in Hamilton a week earlier.

"That's what this team's built on, the character, the attitude and effectiveness. A lot of that you can only measure yourself, the guys just want to keep getting up and don't want to let each other down."

The win was particularly satisfying for captain Craig Clarke, one of a number of Chiefs saying farewell to New Zealand rugby on a winning note. Cruden said it had been a major talking point throughout the week, but there were also other people to win the title for.

"The major thing is we wanted to do it for ourselves. A lot of people outside our chief circle weren't sure if we were able to do it," added Cruden.

"To go back to back is pretty satisfying."

Chiefs 2 - Critics 0.