Crusaders, with the Argentine third row Pablo Matera as starter, was consecrated this Saturday for the 11th. champion of the Super Rugby Pacific by beating the Blues 21-7 in the final as a visitor (first half 13-0).
The match was played at Eden Park in the city of Auckland, and Blues was local for having finished in first place in the regular phase, in which Crusaders had been second.
Crusaders’ points came from tries by Bryan Hall and Sevu Reece, two penalties, a drop goal and a conversion by Richie Mo’unga, while the Blues added a Finlay Christie try converted by Stephen Perofeta.
Matera, an important part of the team throughout the season and constantly praised by coach Scott Robertson, played 78 minutes and was replaced by Quinten Strange.
In a development in which there were handling errors from both sides, with a combination of nerves and anxiety, Crusaders prevailed and played a lot in the rival field, achieving the first points with a try by Hall and a penalty, a drop and a conversion by Mo ‘unga.
Crusaders prevailed due to their greater momentum and strength, prevailing in the fixed formations in the special on the line.
A Mo’unga penalty set the score at 16-0 10 minutes into the second half, but Blues managed to pull one back with a try giving the cheering crowd at Eden Park hope when Christie pounced on a loose ball after 19 minutes near the line and scored the try.
Blues began to press, spurred on by stoppage time, but time began to become an issue as scrum restarts ate up valuable minutes. They went into the final 10 minutes trailing 16-7 and needed a big reaction to nail down an unlikely win.
Finally, a remarkable kick from Matera was used by Reece who scored a try and sealed the final and the title for the Crusaders.
Crusaders captain and historic All Blacks second row Same Whitelock said at the end of the match: “Sometimes it’s not just about scoring points, it’s about keeping them from scoring and tonight the effort was great.”