Blues break 18-year drought as they claim Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Sat, 19/06/2021, 08:55 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Auckland Blues secure a home final next week despite shaky second half

The Blues have claimed the 23-15 win over the Highlanders to claim the inaugural Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title.

In a tense encounter, the game would come down to the wire as the boots of Mitch Hunt and Josh Ioane got the Highlanders back in front with 12 minutes to go .

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However, a clutch penalty from Harry Plummer and a game-sealing try to Blake Gibson gave the Blues an emotional victory in front of a near-packed Eden Park.

The win breaks their 18-year drought without a Super Rugby title, last tasting success in 2003 against the Crusaders.

The visitors looked to set the tempo early through an inspirational Hautoa Kia Toa Haka before the contest.

They would take this momentum into the first five minutes as Mitch Hunt opened the scoring via a penalty goal.

The Highlanders lay down the challenge ahead of the Trans-Tasman Final

However, the Blues hit back straight away as Mark Telea scored the first try of the game.

The Highlanders would be compounded by the loss of captain Ash Dixon, who was sent for ten after a high shot on Otere Black.

They would hold strong as they entered half-time, with both teams trading penalties as the Blues went into the break up 13-6.

The Blues would look to close out the game at the start of the second half with Ioane held up before Black pushed a penalty attempt.

As the Highlanders held them out, they would fight back, with Hunt nailing two penalties in quick succession.

The comeback was complete as the visitors would take the lead as Josh Ioane slotted a 47-minute penalty goal to take a 15-14 lead.

With the Eden Park faithful willing them on, Harry Plummer stepped up and kicked the penalty from the sidelines to retake the lead with ten minutes to go.

The win would be sealed with just four minutes to go as the inspirational Hoskins Sotutu broke through the line.

A couple of phases later, replacement flanker Blake Gibson would touch down to seal the 23-15 victory.

BLUES 23

TRIES: Telea, Gibson

CONS: Black, Plummer

PENS: Black, Plummer 2

HIGHLANDERS 15

PENS: Hunt 4, Ioane

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