James O'Connor wrested victory from the clutches of the Brumbies as his late try gave the Reds a stunning 19-16 win in the Super Rugby AU final.

The dramatic intervention came in the 85th minute, with the Brumbies down to 13 players and desperately defending their line after Darcy Swain and Henry Stowers were sin-binned.

Kalani Thomas picked the ball up from the back of a maul near the try-line and fed a pass to O'Connor, who skidded over between two Brumbies players to thrill the large crowd inside Suncorp Stadium.

It gave the Reds revenge for their loss to the Brumbies in the 2020 final, and saw the Reds follow up finishing top of the regular season this time around by landing the trophy they longed for, a decade on from their last Super Rugby title.

O'Connor scored all the Reds' points, with his four penalties keeping the home team in touch before he added the late try and capped it with an immaculate conversion, the last act of the match.

A third-minute kick from O'Connor had nudged the Reds ahead, but Tom Banks capitalised on great play from Noah Lolesio to nudge the Brumbies in front 10 minutes later.

Lolesio added the extras and two penalties before half-time, with O'Connor also booting a further penalty for the Reds, as the Brumbies led 13-6 at the break.

O'Connor missed a penalty early in the second half but then proved more precise from his next two shots at goal, either side of Rob Valetini being sin-binned in the 61st minute for a high tackle on Jock Campbell.

Lolesio gave the Brumbies a 16-12 advantage for the closing stages after the Reds were penalised for an offside, but despite Valetini returning to the field, the men from Canberra were soon in trouble.

Swain was yellow-carded in the 78th minute for collapsing a maul, and Stowers followed him off moments later.

The Reds were denied a try by the referee and match official after claiming they had rolled across the line, but they still had the energy and momentum, and fly-half O'Connor seized the moment when the ball reached him to the left of the posts, darting in to snatch glory.

The Crusaders extended their Super Rugby dominance as Richie Mo'unga made three late clutch kicks to secure a 24-13 win over the Chiefs in Saturday's Aotearoa Grand Final.

For a fifth successive year, the Christchurch giants finished as champions in their competition, having been limited to all-New Zealand clashes in the last two seasons due to the pandemic.

The Chiefs, who finished bottom of the pile last season, defied expectations to reach this final at Orangetheory Stadium, but they could not take advantage of the Crusaders having two players sin-binned in the second half, briefly leaving them down to 13 men.

The underdogs made a disappointing start as they failed to prevent Mo'unga finding Sevu Reece to dot down the opening try after six minutes. Mo'unga added the extras, before Damian McKenzie pulled back three points with a penalty on 14 minutes.

Almost immediately, however, Will Jordan dashed through to gather David Havili's kick and nudge the Crusaders 12-3 ahead.

McKenzie was fed by a back-of-the-hand pass from Alex Nankivell as the Chiefs crossed in the 20th minute, continuing the barnstorming start to the match, and his conversion made it a two-point game.

That was the end of the try-scoring, however, as it became a match settled by the kickers, with Mo'unga slotting a penalty before half-time, which arrived moments after McKenzie missed the target.

McKenzie also squandered penalty chances twice early in the second half, as yellow cards in quick succession for Reece and Codie Taylor left the home side under-manned.

Belatedly, McKenzie found his range and hauled the Chiefs back to 15-13 as heavy rain fell, but Mo'unga showed nerves of steel to slot a drop goal in the 64th minute, and he added penalties in the 69th and 76th minutes to crush the challenge of the men from Waikato.

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.

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.

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