Crusaders crowned Super Rugby Pacific champs
MATCH REPORT: Crusaders are the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific champions, beating the Blues 21-7 in the Final at Eden Park on Saturday.
Crusaders unleashed a heady mix of precision and power to beat Blues and collect their 13th Super Rugby title.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
A decider between two fierce New Zealand rivals that many predicted would be tight proved far from it as the competition’s most dominant side took command from the outset, much to the consternation of a full house of 42 000 at Eden Park.
Despite wet conditions, the visitors played with an accuracy that has been a hallmark of their enduring success.
They kicked precisely, were unflinching at the breakdown and utterly dominated the lineouts to hand coach Scott Robertson a sixth title from his six seasons in charge.
Two of those, in 2020 and 2021, came under the Super Rugby Aotearoa internal format, with 10 titles having been claimed in the pre-Covid era.
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 18, 2022
With his pack laying the groundwork, Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo’unga was able to control the game tactically, as well as kick 11 points.
The Blues, chasing their fourth trophy and their first since 2003, were considered strong contenders to halt the Crusaders juggernaut.
They secured a rare win in Christchurch two months ago as part of a 15-match winning streak to earn home advantage for the decider.
However, they couldn’t get enough quality possession to in-form playmaker Beauden Barrett, their handling errors and a failure to secure lineout ball counting heavily against them.
For all their early dominance, the Crusaders’ lead was just 3-0 after half an hour, via a Mo’unga dropped goal.
He doubled the advantage with a penalty goal before the lead was stretched to 13-0 when scrumhalf Bryn Hall popped the ball over the tryline off the back of a ruck on the stroke of halftime.
Mo’unga’s second penalty was followed by a lone Blues try, when scrumhalf Finlay Christie darted across after the ball came loose from a scrum.
It ensured the hosts wouldn’t be the first team held scoreless in a Super Rugby final but they never come close to scoring again and conceded a late try to Sevu Reece after failing to control a kick.
Man of the match: Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo’unga again proved why he is the best flyhalf in New Zealand. The No.10 dictated the play, setting up his backline to perfection and added 11 points to his team’s tally. However, our nod goes to Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock. The tall second row was absolutely sublime, he nullified the Blues’ lineout and kept them under pressure. He made a couple of crucial steals and never stopped working.
Tries: Hall, Reece
Pens: Mo’unga 2
Drop Gaol: Mo’unga
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett (captain), 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Dalton Papalii/James Tucker, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryce Heem, 23 Zarn Sullivan.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Quenten Strange, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 George Bridge.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Stu Curran
TMO: Shane McDermott