Crusaders 24-13 Chiefs: Mo'unga seals Super Rugby Aotearoa title

Oleh John Skilbeck 8 Mei 2021 30
Crusaders 24-13 Chiefs: Mo'unga seals Super Rugby Aotearoa title

The Crusaders extended their Super Rugby dominance as Richie Mo'unga made three late clutch kicks to secure a 24-13 win over the Chiefs in Saturday's Aotearoa Grand Final.

For a fifth successive year, the Christchurch giants finished as champions in their competition, having been limited to all-New Zealand clashes in the last two seasons due to the pandemic.

The Chiefs, who finished bottom of the pile last season, defied expectations to reach this final at Orangetheory Stadium, but they could not take advantage of the Crusaders having two players sin-binned in the second half, briefly leaving them down to 13 men.

The underdogs made a disappointing start as they failed to prevent Mo'unga finding Sevu Reece to dot down the opening try after six minutes. Mo'unga added the extras, before Damian McKenzie pulled back three points with a penalty on 14 minutes.

Almost immediately, however, Will Jordan dashed through to gather David Havili's kick and nudge the Crusaders 12-3 ahead.

McKenzie was fed by a back-of-the-hand pass from Alex Nankivell as the Chiefs crossed in the 20th minute, continuing the barnstorming start to the match, and his conversion made it a two-point game.

That was the end of the try-scoring, however, as it became a match settled by the kickers, with Mo'unga slotting a penalty before half-time, which arrived moments after McKenzie missed the target.

McKenzie also squandered penalty chances twice early in the second half, as yellow cards in quick succession for Reece and Codie Taylor left the home side under-manned.

Belatedly, McKenzie found his range and hauled the Chiefs back to 15-13 as heavy rain fell, but Mo'unga showed nerves of steel to slot a drop goal in the 64th minute, and he added penalties in the 69th and 76th minutes to crush the challenge of the men from Waikato.

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John Skilbeck

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