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Blues claim Super Rugby title

Match Report: The Blues outmuscle the Chiefs 41-10 in the Final to be crowned Super Rugby Pacific champions on Saturday.

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The Blues have broken a 21-year Super Rugby title drought, sweeping aside the Chiefs in a drubbing at a sold-out Eden Park.

In the first-ever Final between the two New Zealand sides in their 28-year history, the Blues were dominant.

The driving Auckland rain precluded any chance of expansive rugby breaking out on Saturday night, which suited the hosts just fine.

Wing Caleb Clarke scored a hat-trick, but it was the Blues forward pack that laid the foundation for the win in slippery conditions, controlling territory and possession and heaping pressure on the visitors.

Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu showed no signs of the knee injury that was supposed to have ended his season, amassing a mountain of metres and a line-break in a powerhouse performance.

His brave display four weeks ahead of his scheduled return from injury earned him a standing ovation from the home fans as he was subbed off.

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The Chiefs defended valiantly but were out-muscled and outclassed on a joyless night.

It was always going to be a challenge beating the Blues on their home turf – the Aucklanders have not been defeated at Eden Park since March 2023.

Simon Parker scored the Chiefs’ first try of the night with 15 minutes left to go, but by then the damage was done.

The Blues opened the scoring in their first real attacking foray of the game, Akira Ioane burrowing over from a point-blank ruck.

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The Chiefs’ night was made worse 10 minutes into the second half. As the pressure and the penalties piled on, referee Nic Berry lost his patience and sent George Dyer to the sin bin for a ruck infringement.

After Parker’s consolation try, AJ Lam scored the Blues’ fifth try to seal the deal.

As the Blues celebrated their first title win since 2003 and the equal most one-sided grand final win by a New Zealand team, a hint of a smile forced its way through coach Vern Cotter’s stony face.

Scorers:

For Blues
Tries: Ioane, Clarke (3), Lam
Cons: Plummer 5
Pens: Plummer 2

For Chiefs:
Tries: Parker
Cons: McKenzie
Pens: McKenzie

Teams:

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 AJ Lam, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Bryce Heem, 23 Cole Forbes.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Wallace Sititi, 7 Luke Jacobson (captain), 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 George Dyer, 2 Tyrone Thompson, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Jared Proffit, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Quinn Tupaea, 23 Daniel Rona.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy and Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan

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