Hoskins Sotutu powered the Blues through to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final as they beat the Western Force 31-21 on Saturday, denying the Crusaders a shot at silverware.

Two tries from Sotutu and one each for Dalton Papalii and Mark Telea helped the Blues carve out a 28-0 interval lead, with Telea denied another try in the second half after the TMO identified an infringement by team-mate Ray Niuia, who was yellow-carded.

By that stage, a Western Force fightback was under way, tries from Feleti Kaitu'u and Tevita Kuridrani having narrowed the deficit, and Rob Kearney went over in the closing stages to cut the deficit to 10 points.

However, the Blues, helped by 11 points from the boot of Otere Black, were not to be caught and they will face the Highlanders at Eden Park in the final next Saturday.

Sotutu had darted in down the left for the opening try, and Telea struck just before the half-hour mark after the Blues withstood a period of Force pressure, with Papalii going over for the third.

Sotutu barged through again just before the break, as the Blues piled on the points.

Kaitu'u made the first dent in the Blues' big lead in the 49th minute, going over from close range, and Kuridrani brought the contest to life when he scythed in for a second Force try just seven minutes later. A penalty from Black eased the Blues' nerves, meaning Kearney's late effort was just a consolation.

That result meant the Crusaders missed out on the final, with the Super Rugby champions each year from 2017 to 2019 seeing trophy hopes scuppered despite beating the Rebels 52-26 in Melbourne earlier in the day.

Wing Sevu Reece pounced for a hat-trick in the eight-try Crusaders show, with Mitchell Drummond, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Oliver Jager and Braydon Ennor also going over for the men from Christchurch, who finished third in the series.

The top three sides finished level on 23 points from five games, with points difference settling the final places as the Blues took top spot with +119, the Highlanders second on +103, and the Crusaders (+97) agonisingly third.

The Blues beat the Reds 31-24 in Brisbane on Friday to stay top of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table.

Leon MacDonald's side have now won four out of four in the competition, though they were denied a precious bonus point at Suncorp Stadium against the injury-plagued Reds.

Harry Wilson found a gap to score the opening try of the match for the home team, but Brandon Paenga-Amosa's yellow card for collapsing a maul proved to be a turning point.

Dalton Papalii and winger Mark Telea crossed over for the Blues in the space of seven minutes as MacDonald's charges took full advantage of the one-man advantage.

Patrick Tuipulotu and Finlay Christie were next to dot down for the leaders, either side of Paenga-Amosa's try, to give their side a 17-point advantage.

The Reds made a fight of it late on when a crosskick sent Filipo Daugunu over, soon followed by a successful penalty from the Fiji-born winger, but the comeback fell just short.

The Blues are one point better off than Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders, who also made it four wins from four by defeating the Western Force 29-21 in Christchurch.

Scott Robertson's side were made to work hard for the victory after falling behind to Toni Pulu's well-taken try inside the opening four minutes.

Manasa Mataele finished soon after and Will Jordan slid over to complete a quickfire turnaround for the Crusaders, who went further ahead thanks to Whetu Douglas.

Ollie Callan's score from close range looked to have given the Force some hope, only for Sione Havili to cross the whitewash after the half-time hooter had sounded.

Jordan got his second of the game to give the Crusaders a 15-point lead and they stayed strong at the back until the final seconds.

Jordan Olowofela chased down Kyle Godwin's kick and went over, denying the Crusaders a bonus point in the process.

The Hurricanes earned a third consecutive bonus-point victory as they thrashed Western Force 43-6 on Friday in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

Teams from New Zealand now hold an 11-0 record over their Australian counterparts after the rampant Hurricanes ran in seven tries without reply in a one-sided encounter.

It was their biggest ever win over Western Force, who have suffered three consecutive defeats to start the competition.

The Force opened up an early six-point lead with two Domingo Miotti penalties, but they were obliterated from there.

Asafo Aumua capitalised on a lineout mistake from fellow hooker Andrew Ready to score an impressive solo try.

That opened the floodgates as wing Salesi Rayasi scored in acrobatic fashion and it was 19-6 at the break after Du'Plessis Kirifi dotted down.

It was game over as the hosts secured a bonus point seven minutes after the interval when Wes Goosen, who was constantly threatening, went over in the corner.

Rayasi added his second try of the match and a miserable day for the struggling Force was compounded in the last 10 minutes.

They saw a potential try ruled out due to an obstruction call before Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett - who finished with 13 points - added gloss to the scoreline at the other end.

"I thought we had one of our better performances of the year," stand-in Hurricanes captain Reed Prinsep said.

"A more complete package in attack and defence. Those backs are pretty special talents. As a forward, when you see that happen, you're pretty proud."

Force skipper Kyle Godwin, meanwhile, rued mistakes from his side.

"We were our own worst enemies, the Hurricanes are a classy outfit and they pounced on our mistakes," he said.

"We didn't trust ourselves enough, we do have the attacking threats. We've got the Crusaders next so a lot to review and improve on. I felt like the boys went into their shells and we can't be doing that."

The Hurricanes made it two wins from two in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they scored five tries in a bonus-point defeat of the Rebels.

Julian Savea (two), Billy Proctor and Wes Goosen all crossed for the home side in Melbourne in a clinical 35-13 victory on Friday.

The Rebels, who lost prop Cabous Eloff to a 16th-minute yellow card, were only 11 points down at the break thanks to a Matt To'omua penalty sandwiched between tries from Savea and Proctor.

Michael Wells reduced the deficit further three minutes into the second half, the flanker touching down in the corner at the end of a clever passing move.

Savea scored his second of the match only for Campbell Magnay to give the visitors hope, but two further tries in seven minutes from Goosen and Asafo Aumua at last killed the contest as Jordie Barrett finished spotless with the boot.

The Highlanders also earned their second win in the Trans-Tasman competition as they won 25-15 against the Western Force in Perth.

There were 30 points scored in a frenetic first half, the Highlanders cruising ahead through tries from Jona Nareki, Ayden Johnstone and Scott Gregory before Tomas Cubelli reduced the arrears.

The second half proved a more attritional contest as the men from Dunedin showed real discipline in their defending. They won 63 of 63 rucks and 10 turnovers in the match, while only giving up nine penalties.

A second Gregory score 19 minutes from time put them firmly in control until replacement Angus Wagner went over in the dying moments for the Force, who lost narrowly to the Chiefs last week.

Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders survived a second-half fightback from the Brumbies to start their Trans-Tasman campaign with a dramatic 31-29 win.

The Crusaders appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory when they led 19-7 at the interval thanks to tries from Ethan Blackadder, Richie Mo'unga and David Havili.

Irae Simone's try and five points from the boot of Noah Lolesio trimmed the gap to two points after the break, only for Brendon O'Connor and Cullen Grace to cross to restore the Crusaders' measure of command.

But Tom Banks' try and Lolesio's conversion restored hope for Super Rugby AU runners-up the Brumbies, who then moved within two points of sending the game to extra time when Tom Wright's inside pass sent Rob Valetini over in the last minute.

However, this time Lolesio could not find the desired accuracy from the tee, his kick from the sideline sailing just wide of the left-hand post as the Crusaders clung on.

There was a markedly similar end to the Chiefs' 20-19 victory over the Western Force.

The Chiefs led 10-7 at half-time and tries from Nathan Harris and Jonah Lowe appeared to put them in control.

But Luke Jacobson's 66th red card, which came after he received a second yellow for slowing the ball down at the ruck, gave the Force new life.

They made their one-man advantage count three minutes later as Richard Kahui went over and had a chance to snatch victory at the last after Domingo Miotti crossed.

Miotti, though, could not convert his own try, sending the attempt agonisingly wide of the uprights.

That kick ensured it was a clean sweep for New Zealand sides over their Australian opponents, the Blues having run in eight tries in trouncing the Rebels 50-3 earlier in the day.

Toni Pulu was red-carded against his former team as defending champions the Brumbies beat the Western Force 21-9 to set up a Super Rugby AU final against the Reds.

The semi-final at GIO Stadium on Saturday was well poised with the holders 7-3 up when wing Pulu was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Len Ikitau.

Pulu could have no complaints, having caught Ikitau in the face with his shoulder, and his early exit in the closing stages of the first half proved to be costly.

Domingo Miotti's penalty put the Force in front, but Tom Wright crossed in the corner soon after at the other end for a try converted by Noah Lolesio.

Tom Banks then finished on the stroke of half-time to rub salt into the Force's wounds after Pulu's departure.

Fly-half Miotti reduced the deficit to 12-6 when he was on target from the tee early in the second half, but Lolesio booted the Brumbies back into a nine-point lead.

Wright had what he thought was his second try ruled out after a replay showed his foot was in touch in-goal as he touched down, but two penalties from Ryan Lonergan gave the Brumbies breathing space.

Dan McKellar's side will face the Reds in the final at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday.

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.

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 Brumbies returned to the top of the Super Rugby Australia standings as they ran out 42-14 victors over Western Force.

The Reds inflicted the Brumbies' first defeat of the season last time out, but Dan McKellar's team bounced back in comprehensive fashion on Friday.

Taking advantage of Tevita Kuridrani's booking, Len Ikitau went over twice in six minutes to open the scoring at the GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Having already lost fly-half Jake McIntyre to injury, the Force were no match for their rampant hosts – Cadeyrn Neville and Andy Muirhead scoring before half-time.

Lachlan Lonergan got in on the act after Henry Taefu had put Western Force onto the scoresheet, with Ian Prior dotting down for the visitors before Muirhead helped himself to his second try late on.

The win takes the Brumbies above the Reds, who are two points behind the Canberra team, while Western Force sit fourth with just one win to their name.

The Rebels held on despite a second-half red card to defeat Western Force 10-7 and claim their first win of the Super Rugby AU season.

Two narrow losses, including a heartbreaking defeat to the Brumbies last time out when Ryan Lonergan scored after the final siren, meant they came into the contest second bottom in the standings.

Force, meanwhile, had enjoyed an upset win over the Waratahs but could not record back-to-back-victories on Friday and have now been overtaken by the Rebels.

A try from Lachie Anderson, who crossed down the right wing after a patient team move, was the only score of the first half as the Rebels went into the interval with a five-point advantage.

When a superb burst from Marika Koroibete set up Joe Powell to cross for the Rebels just after the hour mark, it looked like it was game over.

But there was a frantic final 11 minutes, which began when Jack McGregor darted over in the corner for the home side after collecting a loose ball, with Ian Prior converting to cut the gap to three.

Rebels lock Ross Haylett-Petty was then promptly sent off for a high and direct hit on Tomas Lezana.

Force threw everything at the visitors in the final stages but, having spurned the chance to kick a late penalty and level the contest, they could not find a way over the line. 

Ryan Lonergan's sensational kick after the siren sealed a 27-24 win for the Brumbies over the Rebels on Saturday.

The replacement scrum-half set up Tom Banks for a late try before scoring the winning penalty four minutes into additional time.

The unbeaten Super Rugby AU champions trailed 12-10 at half-time and had captain Allan Alaalatoa sent off for dangerous play moments before the interval.

However, the Rebels could only get on the scoreboard through immaculate kicking from Matt To'omua as they failed to turn their man advantage into tries.

To'omua kicked four penalties to give the Rebels their lead at the break after Len Ikitau's 20th-minute try following a Noah Lolesio grubber.

A penalty try handed the home side a boost eight minutes into the second half, but it looked as though ill-discipline would prove their undoing as To'omua's faultless kicking gave the Rebels the edge.

Then came Lonergan's divine intervention. Banks received his clever pass and dived beneath the posts, with Lonergan's conversion making it 24-21.

To'omua's eighth penalty of the contest levelled the scores with four minutes to go, only for Lonergan to have the final say, launching the winning kick through the posts from distance to spark wild celebrations in the nearby dugout.

The Brumbies stay top of the table and have now won 18 of their past 19 home games.

In the opening contest of the weekend, the Western Force likewise had to survive with 14 men on Friday as the visitors held firm to beat the Waratahs 20-16 in Sydney.

Hooker Dave Porecki's fifth-minute try and eight points from the boot of Will Harrison gave the home side a 13-0 lead, but that advantage was cut to three points in the space of four minutes, Jake McIntyre converting Fergus Lee-Warner's score before kicking a penalty.

Tim Anstee snuck over the whitewash but the Force were left with a battle on their hands after Andrew Ready saw red for swinging a punch during an off-the-ball clash.

Harrison squeezed over a penalty to cut the deficit to a point with seven minutes left, but Ian Prior stretched the lead to four in the closing moments as the Force saw out their first win since 2017.

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