Super Rugby Pacific final: Crusaders beat Blues 21-7 to claim 11th title
Crusaders defeated Blues 21-7 in the Super Rugby Pacific final at Eden Park to secure their 11th title.
In rainy conditions in Auckland, the Christchurch-based Crusaders silenced the home crowd with a dominant display.
Scrum-half Bryn Hall and winger Sevu Reece scored tries either side of half-time, while fly-half Richie Mo’unga added 11 points with the boot.
The Blues had won 15 games in a row before the final and ended the season top of the table before the play-offs.
However, Crusaders led the all-New Zealand contest 13-0 at half-time in a dominant display that saw Mo’unga running the game, kicking a drop-goal and penalty, before Hall went over from close range.
In the second half, Blues gave themselves a chance with a try in the 59th minute by scrum-half Finlay Christie, converted by Stephen Perofeta.
But with four minutes left, Argentine flanker Pablo Matera kicked through the Blues’ defensive line after a mix-up at the back and Reece was the quickest over the slick turf, picking up the ball and going over to seal victory.
Referencing the tight defensive display by his side, Crusaders and All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock said: “It’s not always about scoring points, sometimes it’s about stopping them from scoring.”
Blues fly-half Beauden Barrett admitted his team had not been good enough.
“It’s really disappointing. We had a good season, we wanted to come here and do a job here tonight. It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Barrett.
The win extended Crusaders’ record as the most successful side in the Pacific-region competition. They also won two domestic titles in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition when the regional version was suspended during the Covid-affected 2020 and 2021 seasons.