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Chiefs captain Craig Clarke paid tribute to his side after they beat the Sharks 37-6 to claim the Super Rugby crown on home turf in Hamilton.
The Chiefs, all but written off at the start of the season, dominated their Durban visitors for much of Saturday's match to become just the sixth team to lift the title in the 17-year history of the tournament.
"It's a little bit surreal," said Clarke. "We were a little bit slow out of the blocks. We were coming off a physical game last week but we got into our work and found our feet.
"We managed to disrupt them a bit in the air and put them on the ground so they couldn't drive. The second half showed our trademark line speed and the boys were getting up in their face.
"We've got a heap of pride in our defence and we talked about not letting them over and keeping to no tries."
Clarke's counterpart Keegan Daniel regretted his side did not score points when they dominated early in the game.
"That's what finals rugby is about," said the Sharks skipper. "You get such a little amount of opportunity to score points and you should capitalise.
"When we dominated the game early on, we didn't put that into points.
"No excuses. The Chiefs were outstanding tonight. They really suffocated us."