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The Crusaders have claimed the Super Rugby Aotearoa title after they defeated Otago Highlanders 32-22. Two tries from George Bridge in the space of three minutes done the damage as the Canterbury based side claimed the title with a game to spare.
The Crusaders moved to 28 points in the table and no one can catch them. They are six points ahead of the Auckland Blues, in fact the Crusaders will face the Blues in their final game a week from today. Wellington are in third with 21 points. Crusaders have now won 10 Super Rugby titles and are now the most successful side in the competition.
It was a frantic game from start to finish. Shannon Frizell scored a try after 2 minutes after the Highlanders turned the ball over. Jona Nareki ran 80m untouched then to grab the Highlanders second try minutes later. Richie Mo’unga contributed all of the Crusaders points in the opening half with a converted try and and two penalties to leave his side trailing just four points, 17-13 at the break.
The Highlanders extended their lead on the resumption with Michael Collins scoring a try. This was to make it 22-13 with 55 minutes played. However, George Bridge then pounced twice to give the Crusaders the lead, 25-22. The game was all but over then when Braydon Ennor crossed the line for a try with five minutes remaining. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was thrilled with the win. He said, “We were on the ropes for a lot of the game, but there were just some moments where key guys stood up,”.
He continued, “That performance from the Highlanders did justice to the competition. It showed how much they cared, how much we cared… and how tough it is. It had everything.”