Regional | Auckland Blues

Super Rugby Aotearoa's final stage set

With the current standings in the competition, Super Rugby Aotearoa has now set the stage for the final just two weeks out.

With the top-placed Crusaders taking one spot after crushing the Blues 29-6 yesterday, they will host the Chiefs, who had just enough stamina to beat the Hurricanes 26-24 on Friday.

A reversal of fortune

This year's Super Rugby season has seen the Chiefs have a reversal of streaks. The Waikato-Bay of Plenty team hadn't won a single game last season and lost their first two games of 2021, only for that to be the complete opposite and have a streak of wins to take them to their first final since 2013.

IT'S HAPPENED AGAIN!!! Damian McKenzie you are a freak 😱 #CHIvHUR #SkySuperRugbyAotearoa

Posted by Super Rugby Aotearoa on Friday, April 23, 2021

Their latest win came down to the last three minutes of added time at the end of the second half. Fullback Damian McKenzie, smiles and all, struck gold with a 45-metre penalty to send the Hamilton crowd, the team and coach Clayton McMillan into a frenzy.

McKenzie has been putting on last-minute game-winning goals as of late, striking a golden point extra-time penalty to beat the Highlanders two weeks ago, and hitting a late penalty to beat the Crusaders last week.

The penalty was all thanks to lock Tupou Vaa'i, who won the advantage for the Chiefs for a collapsing scrum in their favour, setting up McKenzie moments later to nail the three points.

The two sides have been the complete opposite; the Chiefs' former woes are now the Hurricanes, as the Wellington side have now been handed their sixth loss from seven games. The last time the two sides were against each other was a month ago, the Hurricanes blowing a massive 19-point lead to give the Chiefs their first win since losing 11 matches in a row.

The boys get it done! Credit: Blacks

Their last game before their big finals dance will be with the Blues at Eden Park, on Saturday, May 1.

Home final advantage

With their game on home soil, the Crusaders sent the Blues packing and the crowd cheering in the 80th minute.

FT | The Crusaders with a home final on the way! #CRUvBLU #SkySuperRugbyAotearoa

Posted by Super Rugby Aotearoa on Saturday, April 24, 2021

Richie Mo'unga converted all but one of the four tries scored and notched a penalty in the game, whilst Otere Black was the only player for his Auckland side to score points with two penalties.

Fullback Will Jordan sealed the deal for his Canterbury team after chasing a kick down the left side to score the last try of the match, knocking the third-placed Blues out of the finals picture.

Being top of the leaderboard means the Crusaders will get the home-field advantage in their finals clash with the Chiefs on Saturday, May 8. Even better, the Crusaders don't have a game until that date and will be utilising the two weeks to rest, train and prepare for the Waikato side.