Super Rugby Aotearoa reached something of a conclusion in Round 9 as the Crusaders were crowned champions after despatching the Highlanders 32-22 in Christchurch. Meanwhile, feelings of anxiety resonate through Hamilton as the Chiefs finished the competition without posting a single win after the Hurricanes ran out victors in Wellington.
Hurricanes v Chiefs:
While the Chiefs’ hunger for victory was evident throughout the game, they were unable to dominate a rampant Hurricanes outfit who managed to secure a bonus-point victory in their penultimate fixture of the tournament.
A heroic display from captain Sam Cane spearheaded the Chiefs’ performance before he was taken from the field after a heavy blow to the head. The Hamiltonians pushed the Hurricanes hard at one point with the score at 24-18 before Billy Proctor, fresh onto the field off the bench, dotted down to seal victory for the ‘Canes.
Hurricanes 31 (12)
Tries: Peter Umaga-Jensen (2), Dane Coles, Kobus van Wyk, Billy Proctor
Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3)
Chiefs 18 (3)
Tries: Sean Wainui, Mitch Karpik
Conversion: Damian McKenzie
Penalties: McKenzie (2)
Crusaders v Highlanders:
With one hand already on the trophy, the Crusaders ran out and finished the job against a courageous Highlanders team who made the men from Christchurch work hard for both victory and title.
Typically, the Crusaders left their best until last as they turned the contest on its head in the final quarter after the Highlanders had led for the whole game up to that point.
A brace of tries in two minutes from George Bridge before Braydon Ennor dotted down splashed the writing onto the wall as the Crusaders cruised home 32-22.
Credit must be given to a plucky Highlanders team who, despite having no chance of hoisting the trophy, refused to lie down in the face of clinical attack and defence from their rivals in red.
Tries: Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge (2), Braydon Ennor
Conversions: Mo'unga (3)
Penalties: Mo'unga (2)
Tries: Shannon Frizell, Jona Nareki, Michael Collins
Conversions: Josh Ioane (2)