Crusaders overpower Blues in Super Rugby Pacific final
The Crusaders secured their 11th title by beating the Blues 21-7 in the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific final on Saturday.
A dominant first half from the Christchurch outfit saw them take a 13-point advantage into the break, before keeping their opponents at bay with a determined defensive effort to take the championship.
The teams that finished in the top two of the standings clashed at Eden Park, with the Crusaders taking the early initiative as Richie Mo'unga hit a drop goal and a penalty in the first 30 minutes.
Scott Robertson's men then dealt a real body blow to the Blues just before the break as Leicester Fainga'anuku burst through and was stopped just shy of the line, as was Pablo Matera, only for Bryn Hall to force the ball over – the converted try giving his team a 13-0 half-time lead.
Mo'unga added another three points six minutes into the second half, but after keeping the Crusaders from scoring what surely would have been a game-ending try, the Blues got themselves on the board just before the hour mark as Finlay Christie went over for a try just to the left of the posts to potentially set up a dramatic finale.
The Blues had won 15 straight matches, and Mo'unga's attempt at adding three more for the Crusaders from the tee fell short, his first miss of the night.
But the victory was sealed with just over four minutes remaining after a low kick to the corner from Matera evaded Sam Nock, allowing Sevu Reece to race in and score to send his team-mates wild in celebration.