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Blues beat Chiefs to break 21-year Super Rugby title drought
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Blues beat Chiefs to break 21-year Super Rugby title drought

The Blues have broken a 21-year Super Rugby title drought, sweeping aside the Chiefs in a 41-10 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.

Winger 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.

The 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.

The Blues celebrate after winning the Super Rugby Pacific grand final at Eden ParkView image in fullscreen

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 Japan-bound flanker and brother Rieko teamed up to set up the first and best of Clarke’s trio of tries, somehow contriving to keep the ball in play and juggling the ball to the All Blacks winger to score in the corner.

The Chiefs’ night was made worse 10 minutes into the second half. As the pressure and the penalties piled on, the 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.

Source: theguardian.com