After a stirring rendition of the New Zealand national anthem, we are set for kick-off. The stadium is rocking. These supporters know how lucky they are to be able to sit in the ground during a pandemic.
Ben O’Keeffe is the referee for this fixture. The last time these teams met, the Chiefs edged the Crusaders 26-25 on 17 April. Another clutch performance is needed if they hope to snatch a shock away win.
Chiefs: 1: Aidan Ross 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 3: Angus Ta’avao 4: Tupou Vaa’i 5: Mitchell Brown 6: Pita Gus Sowakula 7: Lachlan Boshier 8: Luke Jacobson 9: Brad Weber (C) 10: Bryn Gatland 11: Etene Nanai-Seturo 12: Alex Nankivell 13: Anton Lienert-Brown 14: Jonah Lowe 15: Damian McKenzie. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Zane Kapeli, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Rameka Poihipi, Chase Tiatia
Crusaders: 1. George Bower 2. Codie Taylor (VC) 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Scott Barrett (C) 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Ethan Blackadder 7. Sione Havili Talitui 8. Cullen Grace 9. Mitchell Drummond 10. Richie Mo'unga 11. George Bridge 12. David Havili (VC) 13. Leicester Fainga'anuku 14. Sevu Reece 15. Will Jordan. Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Tom Sanders, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Braydon Ennor
Hello and welcome to the final of Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 as the Crusaders host the Chiefs at the Orangetheory Stadium.
Mo'unga kicks off the Super Rugby Aotearoa final. There was a late change to the Crusaders team. Tom Sanders is in the team in place of Sione Havili Talitui.
Following a forward pass from the Crusaders, it's the Chiefs who are applying the early pressure. However, Blackadder makes an interception after several phases and the Crusaders work the ball out right to Reece and then back inside to Drummond, who knocks on in the tackle from Anton Lienert-Brown as he reaches the Chiefs 22.
TRY, CRUSADERS, REECE! 5-0: The Crusaders are on the front foot now, looking to force their way over following a lineout. The Chiefs hold firm at first, but the Crusaders go on the outside to Reece, who reaches over in the tackle and grounds the ball. Ben O'Keeffe goes upstairs to TMO Brendon Pickerill, who confirms the try!
CONVERSION, CRUSADERS, MO'UNGA! 7-0: Mo'unga converts from near the right touchline, making it look effortless as he splits the uprights in half!
It's the Chiefs on the front foot now, inside the Crusaders 22 off the back of an attacking lineout and with the penalty advantage for offside. There is no advantage, so O'Keeffe goes back for the penalty.
PENALTY, CHIEFS, MCKENZIE! 7-3: McKenzie slots the penalty over and the Chiefs are on the board.
TRY, CRUSADERS, JORDAN! 12-3: The Crusaders go straight on the attack and Havili goes for the grubber, with Jordan getting onto it ahead of McKenzie. Try!
Mo'unga pushes the conversion wide. The score remains at 12-3.
TRY, CHIEFS, MCKENZIE! 12-8: Wonderful work from the Chiefs off a lineout. They move the ball wide to Nankivell, who draws Jordan and throws a wonderful offload to McKenzie! Of course it's that man whose try blows the game wide open!
CONVERSION, CHIEFS, MCKENZIE! 12-10: Wonderful kick from McKenzie from near the right touchline as he adds the extra two points to his own try.
This is some real end-to-end rugby, with neither team showing the sort of jitters you sometimes get in these high-stakes matches.
The Chiefs win a penalty and set up the lineout just outside the Crusaders 22, but it's stolen.
After a captain's referral from Scott Barrett, the Crusaders win a penalty for a high tackle and set up a lineout outside the Chiefs 22. They secure the ball and move into the 22.
Lovely work from the Chiefs as they come away and turn defence into attack. Wonderful hands as they work the ball out right via McKenzie. It takes a try-saving tackle from Jordan to take Lowe into touch, as confirmed by a consultation with Brendon Pickerill. Jordan is, however, penalised for contact to the face. The Chiefs pop it into the corner for the attacking lineout.
Wonderful work from the Crusaders forwards as they prevent the Chiefs from making ground off the lineout. Havili then smashes into Weber and wins the turnover!
PENALTY, CRUSADERS, MO'UNGA! 15-10: The Crusaders win a penalty and Mo'unga goes for posts, slotting the kick over.
The Crusaders lose their captain's referral. There's no clear evidence of foul play from Sowakula on Whitelock.
The Crusaders go off their feet and the Chiefs have a penalty. However, O'Keeffe goes upstairs to check for potential foul play against Sowakula.
Off we go for the start of the second half of the Super Rugby Aotearoa final at the Orangetheory Stadium.
HALF-TIME: CRUSADERS 15-10 CHIEFS. McKenzie goes for posts from the penalty, but he misses and so the Crusaders take a five-point lead into half-time in this pulsating encounter.
The Chiefs win a kickable penalty and McKenzie lines it up. However, he misses again.
The war of attrition continues. Mo'unga goes for the up-and-under and Jordan takes. The Crusaders are on the attack inside Chiefs territory.
McKenzie once again misses the target from the ensuing penalty. This is so uncharacteristic. The Crusaders can thank their lucky stars -- they maintain the lead.
YELLOW CARD, CRUSADERS, TAYLOR! Taylor takes out McKenzie in the air following a lineout. The landing was safe, so it's not a red card, but it's a definite yellow. He knows it, too, and he apologises on his way off.
YELLOW CARD, CRUSADERS, REECE! After a captain's referral, Reece is yellow-carded for a direct shot to the head of Chase Tiatia. It's 13 against 15 for the next five minutes and then 14 against 15 for five more after that.
PENALTY, CHIEFS, MCKENZIE! 15-13: McKenzie slots the penalty over this time and we have a two-point ball game!
McKenzie boots the ball into the air, but the Crusaders run it right back at the Chiefs and they're inside the 22.
DROP GOAL, CRUSADERS, MO'UNGA! 18-13: The Crusaders win the penalty advantage and Mo'unga goes for the drop goal, absolutely nailing it!
The Chiefs are penalised for offside and Mo'unga can crucially stretch the lead beyond a converted try.
PENALTY, CRUSADERS, MO'UNGA! 21-13: Mo'unga steps up and slots the penalty over once again! His performance under pressure has been superb!
McKenzie kicks into the arms of Jordan. He makes an unforced error, throwing a loose pass. The Chiefs have the knock-on advantage. Eventually, Ben O'Keeffe blows for the scrum.
PENALTY, CRUSADERS, MO'UNGA! 24-13: The Crusaders win another penalty and Mo'unga shows his big match temperament once again. The Crusaders are close to home and dry now.
FULL-TIME: CRUSADERS 24-13 CHIEFS. The Crusaders are deserved winners of Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021! They were down to 13 men at one point, but they kept their composure. Damian McKenzie missed three crucial penalties, having been so good under pressure throughout the tournament. Take nothing away from the Crusaders, though -- they earned this!