SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA 2021 FINAL
After 10 weeks, and 20 intense New Zealand derbies, we have arrived at an historic first Super Rugby Aotearoa final.
Remember, last year’s maiden all-Kiwi competition didn’t have a decider in its schedule, with the Crusaders going on to wrap up the honours with a round to spare.
This time, the red and blacks will have to revert to sudden-death footy if they are to claim yet more silverware – aiming for a remarkable fifth Super crown on the trot.
Lying in the top qualifiers’ path to try and halt that is a resurgent Chiefs side, who are aiming for their first title in eight years.
In a stunning turnaround off the back of a record-equalling 11-game losing streak, the Chiefs have been hot property in stringing five thrilling wins together to secure their place in the Christchurch finale.
While the Crusaders enjoyed a final-round bye last weekend, the Chiefs effectively did too, opting to rest 11 frontliners in their 39-19 loss to the Blues at Eden Park.
Has that surrendered their momentum going into the big one?
Saturday night will tell all.
Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Leicester Fainga’anuku, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Sione Havili Talitui, Ethan Blackadder, Samuel Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Tom Sanders, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Braydon Ennor.
Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Jonah Lowe, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber (c), Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Mitchell Brown, Tupou Vaa’i, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Zane Kapeli, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Rameka Poihipi, Chase Tiatia.
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill
THE WEATHER (as of Saturday PM):
Increasing high cloud. Northeasterlies becoming fresh this evening. Low of 15deg C.
THE ODDS (as of Saturday PM):
Crusaders $1.22, Chiefs $3.90
Chiefs 26 Crusaders 25, Hamilton, April 17, 2021
Crusaders 39 Chiefs 17, Christchurch, March 13, 2021
This content was originally published here.