Crusaders coach Razor Robertson has won a fifth Super Rugby title and another All Black, Brad Thorn, won his first coaching title with the Reds in the most dramatic finish against the Brumbies in Brisbane.
It was finals day down south, in Christchurch and in Brisbane and in two very different finals, the home team triumphed in two very different ways.
The Crusaders won the game when down to 13 players for six minutes. Despite the disadvantage, the hosts, inspired by the magical Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf upped the intensity, turned the screws and played near perfect finals rugby to see off a brave but outclassed Chiefs 24-13.
Mo’unga was superb and is comfortably the best flyhalf currently in New Zealand. His consistent and influential performances in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa makes him the obvious choice for the All Blacks. Beauden Barrett’s return to the All Blacks will have to come via a substitute’s role.
Will Jordan, at fullback continued to make a statement, while utility back David Havilli is starting to make a claim for the All Blacks No 12 jersey.
Veteran lock Sam Whitelock and hooker Codie Taylor also produced big performances.
Damian McKenzie was good in his general play but missed three successive penalties when his side enjoyed a one and two player advantage.
Robertson, overlooked for the All Blacks job, has guided the Crusaders to finals wins against the Lions (at home), the Lions (in Johannesburg), the Jaguares in Christchuch, the Super Rugby Aotearoa League title in 2020 and Saturday’s Aotearoa home final win against the Chiefs.
The Crusaders, in professional rugby’s history, have won all 25 finals they have hosted in domestic and Super Rugby.
*In Brisbane, the Reds won through an 85th minute converted try from James O’Connor, with the experienced Wallabies utility back consistently being the Reds player throughout the domestic season.
The Reds beat the Brumbies 19-16 after trailing the entire match.
The New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby teams will play in the inaugural Super Rugby Trans Tasman tournament next weekend.