Sports · June 18, 2022

The Crusaders are Super Rugby champions again, for the 13th time

The Canterbury Crusaders unleashed a heady mix of precision and power to beat the Auckland Blues 21-7 in the Super Rugby Pacific final in Auckland on Saturday and collect their 13th title.

A decisive decision between two fierce New Zealand rivals that many had predicted would prove far from it as the most dominant team in the competition took the lead from the start, much to the dismay of a 42,000 full house at Eden Park.

Despite the wet conditions, the visitors played with a precision that was a hallmark of their enduring success.

They kicked with precision, were steadfast in the breakdown and completely dominated the throw-ins to deliver manager Scott Robertson a sixth title from his six seasons in charge.

Two of these, in 2020 and 2021, fell within the internal format of Super Rugby Aotearoa, with 10 titles claimed in the pre-Covid era.

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With his pack laying the groundwork, five-eighth Richie Mo’unga of the Crusaders was able to tactically control the game, as well as score 11 points.

The Blues, chasing their fourth trophy and first since 2003, were considered strong contenders to hold the Crusaders colossus.

They secured a rare win at Christchurch two months ago as part of a 15-game streak to gain the home advantage for the decision maker.

However, they failed to get enough quality possession for fit playmaker Beauden Barrett, their handling mistakes and failure to secure the lineout ball count heavily against them.

Despite all their early dominance, the Crusaders’ lead was just 3-0 after half an hour, thanks to a fallen goal from Mo’unga.

He doubled the lead with a penalty before the lead was increased to 13-0 when scrum-half Bryn Hall threw the ball over the goal line from the back of a ruck at half-time.

Mo’unga’s second penalty was followed by a lone Blues try, when scrum-half Finlay Christie darted through after the ball came loose from a scrum.

He assured the hosts would not be the first team to go goalless in a Super Rugby final, but they never came close to scoring and conceded a late try to Sevu Reece after failing to control a kick.