The Blues signed off their Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a 39-19 win over the Chiefs, who understandably had one eye on next week's final against the Crusaders.

A late double from replacement AJ Lam finally allowed the Blues to shake off their much-changed opponents, who rested several first-choice players.

Hooker Kurt Eklund barrelled through a vacant defence for the opening try at Eden Park and a bloodied Adrian Choat – who took a stray boot in the face for his troubles – touched down to help make it 14-9 at the interval.

But Bryn Gatland's unerring boot reduced the deficit to two points early in the second period as the fly-half went four from four off the tee.

Otere Black was off the mark with his conversion from Zarn Sullivan's maiden Super Rugby try and, when Gatland had no such problems after Bailyn Sullivan crossed, the scored were level with an hour played.

Black re-established his composure and the Blues lead with his only penalty of the match and, added the extras when Hoskins Sotutu powered over off the back off a five-metre scrum.

The Chiefs were unable to rally again, knowing their campaign will ultimately be defined a week from now, and Lam made hay with his late salvo.

The Hurricanes ran in six tries to end a disappointing Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign on a high with a thumping 41-22 win against the Highlanders.

Already certain to finish at the foot of the five-team pool, the Hurricanes at least gave themselves something to build upon ahead of the approaching Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign.

They trailed their second-bottom visitors 17-15 at half-time, with Devan Flanders and Dane Coles going over for the Hurricanes as the Highlanders responded through Josh Dickson and Jona Nareki.

The tone was set for the second-half Hurricanes dominance when Ngani Laumape dotted down almost immediately after the restart, and Du'Plessis Kirifi raced through soon afterwards for another score.

Ash Dixon dragged the Highlanders back into it by ploughing through a gap in the Hurricanes defence, but Brayden Iose and Salesi Rayasi left no doubt with tries in the closing 10 minutes, earning a second win in eight games.

The Crusaders will host the 2021 Super Rugby Aotaeroa final against the Chiefs after returning to winning ways with a 29-6 victory over the Blues on Sunday in Christchurch.

The 2020 Super Rugby Aotaeroa champions scored four tries to the Blues' none, with two from Will Jordan including a fine solo run to open the scoring in the seventh minute.

Sevu Reece and Codie Taylor also crossed for the Canterbury side who led 12-0 at the interval and never looked back.

Taylor remains the leading try scorer this season, getting his seventh of 2021 on the hour when the Crusaders maul forced their way over following a line-out.

The result also means that the Blues can no longer mathematically make for the top two thus will not feature in the decider despite having a game in hand against the Chiefs in Round 10, having collected no points on Sunday.

The Blues have lost four of their past five matches, fading from contention after a promising 2-0 start.

The Crusaders had gone down 26-25 to the Chiefs in Round Eight, putting at jeopardy their hopes of hosting the Final but Sunday's result ended any doubts.

Scott Robertson's side have been top of the table since Round Two, having started the 2021 season with five straight wins.

The Waratahs failed to avoid the ignominy of a winless Super Rugby AU campaign as they fell to a 36-25 loss to the Rebels.

A miserable 0-8 record was confirmed on Saturday as the Tahs were beaten by the Australian conference's second-bottom side, despite the Rebels having two men sent off in Sydney.

It took just 33 seconds for the hosts to get that sinking feeling as Stacey Ili touched down after collecting Matt Toomua's precise cross-field kick.

To their credit, the Tahs promptly hit back with a pair of Ben Donaldson penalties to suggest a close contest may be on the cards.

Even after Michael Wells' converted try restored some comfort for the Rebels, the dismissal of Isi Naisarani for a high tackle handed the home side fresh impetus.

Mark Nawaqanitawase and Jack Maddocks both dotted down to capitalise, with the Rebels clinging to a 21-18 half-time lead after a brace of Toomua three-pointers.

The visitors made light of their numerical disadvantage, Rob Leota diving over off the back of a maul, although Carlo Tizzano was quick to respond with a try of his own.

That proved to be the Tahs' last score, though, and the Rebels added gloss through Toomua's penalty and a late Matt Gibbon try.

There was still time for Pone Fa'amausili to see red for a driving his shoulder into the head of Max Douglas, but the 13 men saw out the remainder of the game without further incident.

Damian McKenzie landed a penalty after the final siren sounded to secure the Chiefs a thrilling 26-24 win over the Hurricanes on Friday.

Full-back McKenzie was on target with the match-winning kick in the 83rd minute of a see-saw Super Rugby Aotearoa clash that seemed set to yield an upset result.

Asafo Aumua's 68th-minute try, which was converted by Jordie Barrett, had the struggling Hurricanes on course for just their second victory of the 2021 season.

James Blackwell and Billy Proctor also touched down for the visitors - the former doing so in the opening minute of proceedings - as the team stuck at the bottom of the standings gave their second-placed opponents a serious scare.

Chiefs managed two tries themselves through Pita-Gus Sowakula and Bryn Gatland, but it was McKenzie's trusty boot that proved crucial in deciding the outcome.

The New Zealand international landed both conversion attempts as well as four penalties, the last of which dashed Hurricanes' hopes in dramatic fashion.

Domingo Miotti was the hero for Western Force as the Waratahs were denied a first win of the Super Rugby Australia season, with the home side snatching a 31-30 success.

Miotti converted Jordan Olowofela's try in the closing stages, but it still appeared the excellent kicking of Ben Donaldson – making his first start – would be enough to guide the Waratahs to victory.

Yet presented with a line-out and the opportunity to kick the ball into touch to mark full time, the Waratahs turned the ball over, giving the Force one last chance.

It was an opportunity they seized on, with 20 phases of play resulting in a penalty which Miotti sent through the posts and completed the turnaround for the Force, who were 30-21 down with 10 minutes remaining.

While the Waratahs stay bottom on three points, the Force are in third place, three points ahead of the Rebels in the hunt for a semi-final play-off.

Damian McKenzie scored a last-gasp penalty as the Chiefs came from behind to edge out the Crusaders 26-25 and move second in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

McKenzie was on supreme form with the boot throughout Saturday's contest in Hamilton, and he proved decisive from 35 metres with three minutes remaining.

It was a different story for Richie Mo'unga, who missed what should have been an easy conversion from a Codie Taylor try early in the second half.

Mo'unga's mistake enabled the Chiefs to capitalise – Jonah Lowe crossing over in the corner to set the stage for McKenzie's winning penalty.

Lachlan Boshier also went over for the hosts, with McKenzie having kicked all nine of their points in the first half. 

Tries from Leicester Fainga'anuku and Will Jordan had propelled the top-of-the-table Crusaders to a 17-9 half-time lead, but indiscipline in the closing stages cost them. With four straight wins under their belts, the Chiefs are second on 16 points, ahead of the Blues and the Highlanders.

Alex Hodgman saw red as a depleted Highlanders side dealt a blow to the Blues' Super Rugby Aotearoa Finals hopes with a hard-earned 35-29 victory on Friday.

Hodgman's dismissal came in the final 10 minutes of a close contest in Dunedin, for a wild high tackle on James Lentjes.

The Highlanders captialised, with Michael Collins going over for what was ultimately the winning try – Hoskins Sotutu's late score proving nothing but a consolation.

It was a rollercoaster encounter, with the lead swapped four times in the first half, Josh Ioane tallying up 12 points for the hosts, though his brother Rieko was one of two Blues try scorers in the opening 40 minutes.

Jona Nareki's try and Mitchell Hunt's penalty nosed the Highlanders ahead after the interval, and though Nepo Laulala crossed to apply pressure, Hodgman's red card proved decisive.

Having lost to the Chiefs last time out, the Highlanders are now up to third, one point behind the second-placed Blues.

New Zealand captain Sam Cane has undergone successful surgery on a pectoral injury.

Cane suffered a tear in his right pectoral tendon during the Chiefs' Super Rugby Aotearoa victory over the Blues last month.

The back-row, who is expected to be out for between four and six months, revealed he also had damage to his shoulder repaired during the procedure.

Cane posted on Instagram: "Surgery went well. Grateful to have a very good surgeon who reattached my pectoral muscle but also tired [sic] up a few loose ends with my shoulder while he was in there

"Looking forward to starting the rehab process and coming back stronger."

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said following Cane's injury blow: "We are all disappointed for Sam, but we have full faith in the medical team around him and we wish him well for his surgery and rehabilitation.

"As All Blacks captain, he will still play a key role in our planning for the 2021 season, and we look forward to him returning to the footy field once his rehab is complete."

The Crusaders sealed a golden-point victory over the Hurricanes as David Havili's drop goal settled a memorable contest in extra time.

Havili's heroics secured a 30-27 triumph for the four-time defending champions against Super Rugby Aotearoa's rock-bottom side on Sunday.

It was a thrilling clash in Wellington, in which the Crusaders bounced back from last weekend's surprise loss to the Highlanders, who on Saturday were on the wrong end of Super Rugby's first golden-point result.

The win takes Scott Robertson's Crusaders eight points clear of the Blues at the summit.

George Bridge touched down twice early on as it appeared the visitors were setting themselves up for a routine win.

But the Hurricanes had other ideas, Ngani Laumape showing a turn of speed to sprint clear and dot down.

Then, after Richie Mo'unga's penalty, Julian Savea collected James Blackwell's pass to cross the line, with Jordie Barrett levelling matters with the conversion.

Laumape's yellow card did little to stifle the Hurricanes' momentum as Wes Goosen exploited a gap in the Crusaders defence to grab a try, the hosts taking a 27-20 lead.

That, however, was as good as it got for the Hurricanes, with Seva Reece's converted try taking the game to extra time, where Havili had the final say.

Super Rugby Australia leaders Queensland Reds made it seven wins from as many games as they came from behind to defeat second-placed Brumbies 24-22.

The Reds found themselves 15-6 down at half-time on Saturday, with their winning run under threat.

However, they had won four of the last five home games where they had trailed at half-time, and they made that five in six – including their last four such games in succession – with a blistering display after the interval.

Having finished the first half on the front foot, the Reds went over for their first try through Josh Flook shortly after the restart.

Tom Wright hit back to make it 20-13 to the Brumbies, with Noah Lolesio adding the extras.

Yet the Brumbies could not hold out, Jordan Petaia taking in James O'Connor's kick to reduce the gap to four points.

O'Connor's kick drifted wide, but he atoned with two penalties in the final 10 minutes to preserve the Reds' winning start.

Damian McKenzie's long-range extra-time penalty saw the Chiefs edge the Highlanders 26-23 to claim Super Rugby Aotearoa's first golden-point triumph.

It proved a moment of atonement for McKenize, who had punted wide from a similar opportunity at the end of regulation time.

In total, McKenzie kicked 16 of the Chief's 26 points, with Etene Nanai-Seturo and Angus Ta'avao scoring the visitors' tries in Dunedin.

Chasing a third straight win, the Chiefs led for much of the encounter, yet were pegged back late on by fly-half Josh Ioane, who converted his own try before drilling a penalty through the sticks to force extra-time.

James Lentjes and Aaron Smith had previously crossed for the hosts at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

It was McKenzie who struck the decisive blow, landing a penalty from just short of the halfway line to send the Chiefs into third place on 12 points, two shy of the Blues, who occupy the second semi-final berth, with table-topping Crusaders coming up next.

The Western Force snatched a dramatic 16-15 victory over the Rebels on Friday as the home side failed to capitalise on their dominance at AAMI Park.

Despite enjoying 65 per cent of the possession and more than twice as many passes and carries, the Rebels were thwarted by their own lack of cutting edge against a rigid rearguard.

Force then made them pay with the only try of the contest in the 78th minute, Tim Anstee touching down after a rolling maul and Domingo Miotti adding the extras.

Matt Toomua's penalty had given the Rebels a 15-6 lead midway through the second half but a further kick that struck the upright proved a costly miss in an error-strewn contest.

Miotti also missed a kick prior to the visitors' critical try, before a last-gasp wayward drop goal attempt from Reece Hodge brought the contest to a frustrating end for the Rebels.

It was a 10th successive Super Rugby meeting between the sides decided by a single-digit margin.

And the Rebels are now just a point ahead in the Super Rugby AU standings as the battle for semi-final places hots up.

The Blues got their Super Rugby Aotearoa season back on track with a battling 27-17 victory over the Hurricanes at Eden Park and the ruthless Reds maintained their perfect Super Rugby AU record on Saturday.

Leon MacDonald's side were smarting from back-to-back defeats to leaders the Crusaders and the Chiefs, but they responded with a win in Auckland.

A penalty try and three points from the boot of Otere Black put the Blues 10-9 up at half-time, with Hurricanes full-back Jordie Barrett on target three times from the tee.

Barrett bisected the posts for a fourth time to put Tony Brown's men in front, but TJ Faiane finished following an incisive break from Stephen Perofeta 10 minutes into the second half.

Mark Telea then took a superb floating pass from Rieko Ioane to cross in the corner and Black converted.

Reed Prinsep gave the Canes hope when he crashed over four minutes from time, but Black completed the scoring with a penalty right at the end as the Blues reduced the Crusaders' lead at the top to four points.

Taniela Tupou scored a first-half double as the Reds cruised to a 44-19 Super Rugby AU win over the Rebels to go four points clear of the Brumbies at the summit.

Tupou crossed twice in the space of 14 minutes, while Hunter Paisami, Fraser McReight, Jock Campbell and Josh Flook also touched down in a clinical display at AAMI Park.

Fly-half James O'Connor finished with a 14-point haul as the Reds took over at the top, with tries from Frank Lomani, Reece Hodge and Michael Wells in vain for the third-placed Rebels.

 

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