Blues win Super Rugby Pacific title after thrashing the Chiefs

The Blues have been crowned Super Rugby Pacific Champions after defeating the Chiefs 41-10 in the Grand Final at Eden Park on Saturday.

Caleb Clarke starred with a hat-trick that 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.

Blues make Eden Park a fortress

Head coach Vern Cotter has guided the Blues to an unbeaten term at Eden Park, 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.

He also 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 Blues Rugby. I think we can proud that we’ve done that.”

Fellow senior Blues player Dalton Papali’i reflected on the club’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.”

Having suffered defeat to the Crusaders in last year’s Super Rugby Pacific decider the Chiefs have more finals heartache to digest.  

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

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

Triumphant finish to Super Rugby Pacific

Long-serving Blues backrower Akira Ioane, in his final game before leaving the club for Japan, opened the scoring in the Grand Final with a try from close range.

The two sides traded penalty goals before Akira turned provider with help of brother Rieko – the siblings producing a pair of remarkable offloads to put Clarke over in the corner.

Another penalty goal to Blues flyhalf Harry Plummer gave the home side a 20-3 half-time lead.

Clarke grabbed his second try shortly after the break as the Blues’ dominance of territory and possession took its toll on the Chiefs, before the winger completed his hat-trick of tries with a diving effort in the 61st minute.

The Chiefs gave their fans something to cheer about as replacement forward Simon Parker grabbed their first try with 15 minutes left in the contest.

However, it was the Blues who had the final say as inside centre AJ Lam plunged over, with Plummer’s conversion capping off a faultless night off the tee for a personal haul of 16 points.

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