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Blues get that 'surreal feeling' after years of pain

REACTION: Some of the Blues stars reflected on their long journey with the team after they beat the Chiefs 41-10 in Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific Final at Eden Park.

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A Caleb Clarke hat-trick helped the Blues secure their third Super Rugby title and their first since 2003 in front of a capacity crowd of 44,000 in Auckland.

Under head coach Vern Cotter the Blues went unbeaten at Eden Park in 2024, with their dominant Grand Final victory extending their winning streak on home turf to 16 games.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu was named player of the match after making an impressive return from a knee injury suffered in the first week of the finals.

“It’s a surreal feeling with the boys on the bench for the final two minutes – I can’t describe the feeling – there’s a lot of joy,” Tuipulotu said.

“It’s been a long time and really proud of the effort our team has put in to get this win.

“It’s important to this team – a lot of them are young and we wanted to add to the legacy of the Blues. I think we can be proud that we’ve done that.”

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Blues flyhalf Harry Plummer landed all seven shots at goal in a 16-point haul.

Plummer said the Blues had been overdue a title.

“We’ve failed in the last couple of years at the last hurdles,” Plummer said.

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“I’m just happy we did it for all the boys before us because I know they’ll be watching and they deserve this success as well.

“We played how we wanted to. We had a game plan and the boys fronted up. That’s Blues rugby and that’s rugby under Vern Cotter.”

Fellow senior Blues player Dalton Papali’i also reflected on the team’s long journey to the title.

“I remember when I first came into the team and we were down the bottom and fighting for the top eight and it was tough, but to stick in and becoming a champ – no words,” he said.

“I’ve seen some pretty good performances but that was the most complete. We stuck in there the whole game and every moment we lost, we made sure to follow up and win another moment.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs were left to absorb back-to-back Grand Final heartbreak, having suffered defeat to the Crusaders in last year’s Super Rugby Pacific decider.

“A very tough one out here tonight [Saturday]. [The Blues] came out and set it right from the get-go and made it tough for us to stay in the game,” Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson said.

“Really unfortunate we couldn’t get it done, but we’ve got a really tight culture and we’ll be back again.”

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