Super Rugby final: Blues cruise to title with 41-10 win over Chiefs at Eden Park

Clear the cabinet’s cobwebs, the Super Rugby trophy is returning to its first home after 21 years.

After more than two decades and countless heartbreaks, the Blues have reclaimed their crown as Super Rugby kings in emphatic fashion, crushing the Chiefs 41-10 at Eden Park.

A Caleb Clarke treble helped extend the Blues’ winning streak at home to 16 and bring a fourth title to Auckland.

It wasn’t quite champagne rugby, but that won’t stop the Blues from cracking a few bottles open to celebrate the end of a 21-year dry spell.

It caps a remarkable debut season for coach Vern Cotter, and marks a fitting farewell to one of the franchise’s favourite sons, Akira Ioane.

A considerable cohort of cowbell-carrying Chiefs fans made their way up State Highway 1 for the decider, at times drowning out the Blues supporters in the stands.

However, they leave lamenting a listless performance from their side, comfortably out-classed by a ruthless Blues outfit.

It was an inauspicious start for the hosts, a rank clearing kick to touch by Harry Plummer gifting the Chiefs an early attacking option, but Damian McKenzie threw a cut-out pass which sailed over Emoni Narawa’s head and the sideline.

The first penalty came just under four minutes, with Akira Ioane pinged for hands in the ruck. McKenzie lined up the shot from halfway but was short and wide of his target.

The Blues would be first on the board – Ioane just got enough of the white line before it spilled free.

Sparked by a Hoskins Sotutu surge, the Blues stormed upfield form the restart, winning a penalty inside the 22 which Plummer duly converted, giving his side a 10-0 lead after fifteen.

A miscommunication at kickoff saw the Blues spill possession and concede a penalty right infront of the stick, allowing McKenzie to close the gap to seven.

The Ioane brothers then combined to conjure some magic for a second Blue’s try, first Reiko then Akira showcasing deft skill to offload within inches of the sideline, as Caleb Clarke then burrowed his way over the chalk.

Compounding the Chiefs’ woes, referee Nic Berry issued a team warning for repeated infringments as Plummer stretched the lead by a further three to put his side ahead 20-3 at the break.

Given an early kickable penalty, the Blues looked for the killer blow as Plummer plugged the corner.

Hot on attack, Anton Lienert Brown managed to pluck a Blues offload out of the air and was set to score at the other end, only for Berry to bring it back to an earlier indiscretion, much to the chagrin of Chiefs fans.

Following multiple raids at the line by the Blues, the pressure forced Aidan Ross to concede yet another penalty and he was shown yellow as a result as Berry lost patience with the visitors.

Opting to pack down a scrum, the move paid dividends as Clarke thundered onto a Christie pass to score his second.

Skipper Patrick Tuipolotu came to the sideline to a rapturous ovation as the match neared the three-quarter mark.

Clarke then sealed the deal with his third, waltzing over in the left-hand corner to send the crowd into ecstasy.

The Chiefs did manage a late consolation through Simon Parker, but the damage had well and truly been done.

Icing the cake in the 73rd minute was AJ Lam, whose try put the Blues into the forties for just the fourth time in a final.

Fittingly, rain fell on fulltime to coincide with the end of the 21-year drought for Auckland.

The old empire has returned.


Blues 41 (Clarke 3, Ioane, Lam, tries; Plummer, 2 pen, 5 con)

Chiefs 10 (Parker, tries; McKenzie 1 pen, 1 con)

HT- 20-3.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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