Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues finish season in style with gritty victory over a young Chiefs side

The Blues have ended their Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a hard fought and gritty 39-19 victory over a depleted Chiefs side at Eden Park.

With the Chiefs already locked in for their first grand final since 2013, coach Clayton McMillian rested his star players and made 20 positional changes in what was essentially a dead rubber Super Rugby Aotearoa regular season finale.

The contest was tight until the final 10-minutes where the experienced Blues side ran in three quick tries to blow out the scoreline out and end their season in style with a flattering six tries to one victory.

The victory sees the Blues finished the season on 20 competition points level with the Chiefs, but the Waikato side progressed to the final courtesy of the having an extra win. 

It was an edgy opening 19 minutes with only Chiefs first-five Bryn Gatland's penalty goal separating the two sides.  

The Blues - who came into the contest having lost four of their last five - finally put their mark on the contest with two tries in eight minutes. 

The first was through hooker Kurt Ekland who burst through a huge hole in the defence before a lung busting sprint to the line to score the games opening try.

The second came when flanker Adrian Choat burrowed his way over close to the line to open up a eight point lead. 

The visitors thought they had their first try of the evening when prop Ollie Norris crashed over but it wasn't to be when the Blues used their captain's challenge.

The television match official Brendon Pickerill ruling that Shaun Stevenson was in an offside position when he picked up a loose ball, so ruled out the try

The Waikato side continued to keep themselves in the contest and could've been in front if it wasn't for some scrambling Blues defence and two tight TMO calls.

The young-Chiefs team produced more attacking moments with three linebreaks to one and ran for more metres (229-197) in the opening 40 minutes. 

Gatland knocked over two more penalty goals to continue to punish the Blues poor discipline to see themselves only down 14-9 at the break. 

The second half continued to be an edgy affair with Gatland knocking over his fourth penalty goal of the evening to reduce the deficit to two points. 

In the 54th-minute, Blues fullback Zarn Sullivan finished off a brilliant backline move to open up a seven-point lead. 

With 18-minutes remaining, the Chiefs set up a grandstand finish when wing Bailyn Sullivan scored his first Super Rugby try to level the scores. 

With the contest in the balance, the Blues stepped up a gear and ran away with the contest with three late tries to Hoskins Sotutu and a double to replacement back AJ Lam to blow out the scoreline. 

The loss brings to an end the Chiefs five-game winning streak but they have bigger things to focus on with the grand final next Saturday in Christchurch. 

The Blues have a week off before the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition gets underway when they face the Rebels in Melbourne.

Blues 39 (Eklund, Choat, Sullivan, Sotutu, 2 Lam tries; Black 3 conversions, penalty goal) bt Chiefs 19 (B Sullivan try; Gatland 4 penalty goals, conversion)

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