The last time Pablo Matera played in a Super Rugby Final was three years ago as runner-up in a Jaguares shirt. He now went one better this year this time with a winning team for the Crusaders – where he simply kept the Blues quiet in all fronts tonight on the blindside flanker role at No.6. His tall build, leadership & physicality gave him an outlook of how the Blues play their rugby before the mistakes began to pile up on their end, as he capitalised on it defensively. Matera can also be dangerous in the attack where he made up two 2nd 40 TRY assists off the back of winning penalties/turnovers/intercepts; One for the opening big score to Bryn Hall and another with the cross kick to Sevu Reece that secured them the Super Rugby Pacific title.
Next up is Richie Mo’unga who has to be the best playmaker out of the No.10s tonight for the Crusaders ahead of Beauden Barrett – his opposite dial over at The Blues. We love how he kickstarted the match with two three-point goals while he sets up the attack with a mix of pace, team-work and passing that requires persistence to get past the Blues through the gate. That is one big area his opponents couldn’t match where the Saders took care of his creative work off the back of winning penalties/turnovers being given to them with the ball, and they managed to get the job done with two 2nd-half tries tonight.
And Dalton Papalii made a huge difference for the Blues off the bench throughout the 2nd half on the openside back row. He too gave the Crusaders some nerves having created a line break going forward with some pace, as well as being the main man cheering them up with the scrum and maul feed. He unpacked all of these attributes when being tested both in attack and defense that gave the Blues a lift thanks to Finlay Christie’s TRY with 20 minutes to go. However, the continuous mistakes limited their attacking chances to get the job done that saw them settle as 2nd best, especially at line-out time where inaccurate throws cost the Blues time after time before it’s too late.
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