Live updates: Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Final - Blues v Highlanders at Auckland

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Blues 23 Highlanders 15

Blues - Telea & Gibson tries; Black conversion & penalty, Plummer 2 penalties & conversion

Highlanders - Hunt 4 penalties, Ioane penalty

Second half

40th minute + 1 - Evans wins another lineout and the forwards maul towards the line, but Fraser whistles it over.

Blues celebrate their first title in 18 years.

40th minute - Evans in the lineout and Gilbert runs off the back. Highlanders have an advantage and Hunt attempts a drop kick that misses.

Fraser brings them back for an advantage and Hunt kicks to touch after the siren. They can't win from here, but they can still score.

39th minute - From the kickoff, Blues forwards control the ball, but concede a penalty on their side of halfway. Hunt kicks to the corner.

38th minute - Plummer slots his conversion from near touch and that may be too big a hurdle for the Highlaners, BLU 23-15

36th minute - Try to Gibson

Sillivan kicks to touch for an attacking lineout on the 10, but the Highlanders snaffle the throw. Blues counter-ruck and Sotutu charges towards the line.

Gibson is next cab off the rank and dives over. Surely that's the clincher. 

35th minute - Ruru feeds the scrum, which collapses. Fraser plays some advantage, but brings them back for the penalty against Highlanders.

33rd minute - Blues monster the scrum, but Smith darts with the ball. Highlanders knock on and Blues have a scrum in their own territory.

32nd minute - Faiane turns the ball over from a lineout win and the Highlanders have a chance. They earn a scrum for the knock-on.

30th minute - Plummer is not a kicker you bet your house on, but this one bisects the posts and the BLues go ahead again, BLU 16-15

29th minute - From the kickoff, the Blues win a penalty Highlanders territory. Plummer has replaced Black, so he will take an angled kick for goal.

26th minute - From 45m out, Ioane slots the penalty to take the lead, HIG 15-13

25th minute - Smith kicks into Blues territory and the Highlanders defence rushes up, earning a penalty at the breakdown. This is inside the Blues half and Josh Ioane points to the posts.

24th minute - Goodhue is leaving the field and Tuipulotu comes back for the Blues. Hunt slips over, but slots the penalty and suddenly, the Blues are just a point ahead, BLU 13-12

23rd minute - Fraser playing advantage, as the Highlanders close on the line. Blues defence is huge and they come back for the penalty on Akira Ioane.

22nd minute - Hunt finds touch on the Blues 22 and Highlanders win the lineout.

Highlanders forwards maul forwards, just 10m out.

21st minute - From the kickoff, Himeno drives forward and Collins is barely grabbed from behind. Smith wants a penalty and gets one on his own side of halfway.

19th minute - Hunt lines up a kick at goal from 30m, straight in front, and slots it, BLU 13-9

18th minute - Blues are offside, as Nareki finds a half gap. Smith tries to put Nareki through a gap, but he's nailed.

Fraser brings them back for the penalty...

17th minute - Coltman's throw to the lineout is not straight, but Fraser whistles the Blues for an early lift. Highlanders opt for another lineout, as Tuipulotu is replaced by Josh Goodhue.

16th minute - Blues mount an attack, but Renata is penalised. That's a make-up call... the ball never lies.

15th minute - Blues win the lineout, as replays suggest Fraser was right the first time.

14th minute - Hunt clears beyond the 22, Hohneck and Lentjes replace Tokolahi and Renton for the Highlanders.

Coltman throws long to Nareki, who is nailed by Papalii. Highlanders earn a clearing penalty at the breakdown, but Fraser reverses the penalty for not releasing.

Black kicks to the corner.

13th minute - Smith feeds a defensive scrum under his posts, the Blues shove forward, but are penalised.

11th minute - Laulala leaves, replaced by Renata in the Blues front row.

Blues win the lineout and maul to the 22. Faiane surges towards the line, Renata is stopped short and Sotutu loses the ball forward over the line.

10th minute - Johnstone and Coltman come on for De Groot and Dixon. Tuinukuafe reaplces Hodgman for the Blues.

Smith kicks high, Highlanders get the ball back, but its untidy. Nareki kicks ahead, but Sullivan kicks back with interest. 

Hunt scrambles the ball out on the 22, so a net gain for the Blues.

Ninth minute - Blues just outside the 22, building phases. Heem puts Papalii in the clear with the line in sight, but the pass is forward.

Eighth minute - Blues win an untidy lineout and Black puts up a high kick that is gathered by Heem, who throws it away.

From broken play, Telea bumps off a tackle and makes good ground.

Sixth minute - Highlanders regather Hunts dropout and launch an attack from their 22. Hunt angles another kick upfield and finds touch on the full - they come back to the Highlanders 10 for the lineout.

Fifth minute - Black hooks his penalty from in front, that could be costly.

Fourth minute - Hunt kicks and Blues charge back towards the 22, through Sotutu.

Parkinson is offside, but as the Blues play on, Rieko Ioane finds a gap and threatens to create a try. Nareki intercepts, but Fraser brings them back for the penalty.

Third minute - Akira Ioane drives over the tryline, but is held up. Highlanders goal-line dropout.

Second minute - Blues lineout in Highlanders territory, they win it and drive forward.

Black dummies and eventually offloads to Sotutu.

First minute - No changes at halftime, as Black kicks off for the second half.

Smith kicks high, but Rieko Ioane gathers the loose ball. Sullivan kicks towards Hunt, who is caught outside the 22.

First half

40th minute - Black stabs a kick into the Highlanders 22 and his forwards steal the ball again. Rieko Ioane finds Akira with a dodgy pass, but the Blues stream towards the line.

Black kicks towards Heem, but the ball beats him dead. Fraser is playing advantage against De Groot at the breakdown and he eventually brings them back.

Black kicks the easy penaly, as halftime arrives, BLU 13-6

39th minute - Smith feeds a defensive scrum and the Blues forwards apply the pressure. Hunt clears near halfway and Blues build from the lineout.

37th minute - Parkinson wins a lineout and Highlanders maul forward, but Sotutu has stolen the ball and Faiane steams up centrefield.

He finds Heem in support, but he can't link up with Sullivan, who knocks a tough pass foward.

36th minute - Tuipulotu wins the defensive lineout and Christie clears near halfway.

35th minute - Highlanders control the kickoff and Smith kicks high, Black completely misses the catch. Hunt angles another kick to touch inside the Blues 22.

34th minute - Hunt slots the penalty, as Dixon and Black both return to the field, BLU 10-6

33rd minute - Akira Ioane is penalised for tackling a man off the ball and Hunt will take a kick from in front of the posts.

32nd minute - Black has passed his HIA. Evans wins a lineout for the Highlanders and they maul forward,

31st minute - Christie puts up another high kick and there's a big collision. Heem and Nareki are jockeying each other, and Heem runs into Hunt, who is airborne to catch the ball.

After a long review and discussion among officials, Heem is penalised, but avoids a yellow card. Good call from the TMO.

30th minute - Blues steal Coltman's throw and stream forward. Heem chases a high kick and regains possession for his team.

29th minute - From the scrum, Highlanders kick deep, beyond the goal-line and Sullivan clears inside his own half. Coltman replaces Tomkinson to throw to the lineout.

28th minute - Eklund's throw to the lineout is not straight.

27th minute - Blues forwards drive towards the line, but Highlanders recover a loose ball and Nareki clears from behind his line.

26th minute - Hunt kicks high and Christie is safe under the ball. Blues spread it right and Heem makes good ground, before tossing the ball infield.

24th minute - Fraser is playing advantage, but the Blues drive forward. Eventually, they come back for the penalty.

Fraser checks foul play on Black and replays show Ash Dixon got him high with a shoulder. Dixon sees yellow and Highlanders are a man down for 10 minutes.

Plummer comes on for Black and lines up a kick at goal from in front of the posts - he slots it, BLU 10-3

23rd minute - Blues go right and Heem takes a half gap, before a speculator pass. Black is down.

22nd minute - Blues have Highlanders pinned inside their own half and Nareki kicks long. Telea builds momentum.

21st minute - Blues on halfway and Christie kicks high.

20th minute - Parkinson wins the lineout and Smith clears to halfway - big kick from the halfback.

19th minute - From the kickoff, Christie kicks high from his 22 and Sotutu puts pressue on the Highlanders. Sullivan kicks long and finds touch inside the Highlanders 22.

16th minute - Try to Telea

Blues take the scrum option five metres out, seeking another big push. They decimate the Highlanders. Black kicks across field for Telea, who has to backtrack to catch it and then sidestep the last defender (Ioane) to score in the corner.

Black's sideline conversion is good, BLU 7-3

15th minute - Blues losing big ground, but playing under advantage and Fraser brings them back. Crowd given as 36,000 - not bad for Auckland.

14th minute - Sotutu wins the lineout and the Blues try to maul to the line. Highlanders upset the drive.

13th minute - Blues explode the scrum and get a penalty inside Highlanders territory. Black kicks to the corner.

12th minute - Blues forwards probe upcentrefield, but Sullivan's pass to Heem is wayward and the ball dribbles into touch.

Scrum is held up, as Tokalahi gets his knee heavily strapped.

11th minute - Hunt kicks high and chases, but he's penalised for shoving Christie aside.

10th minute - Big shove from the Blues pack, but Smith kicks from the scrum. Tuipulotu wins the lineout and the forwards maul forward.

Christie kicks high and Telea rises high to claim it. Faiane makes a break, but Tuipulotu can't gather the pass.

Eighth minute - Josh Ioane is held up in a maul, but Highlanders win the scrum feed.

Seventh minute - Blues win their own lineout (just) and build an attack on halfway. Black kicks high.

Sixth minute - Sullivan restarts long and Hunt clears his own 22. Blues win a lineout, but a pass goes loose in midfield.

Nareki chips ahead, but out on the full.

Fifth minute - Hunt lines up a penalty from in front of the posts and slots it, HIG 3-0

Fourth minute - Parkinson wins the lineout for Highlanders and the forwards drive forward. Harmon makes a halfbreak to within 10m of the line.

Hodgman concedes a penalty in the shadow of the posts.

Third minute - Cowley-Tuioti wins the first lineout and the Blues carry from their own 22. Christie kicks out on the full, handing advantage back to Highlanders.

Second minute - From the scrum, Ioane kicks through, but into touch.

First minute - Mike Fraser will referee the final. Highlanders kick off and Sullivan makes the first run. Christie clears his 22, but Highlanders still on attack.

Papalii rips the ball away, but there's a knock on and Highlanders will feed the first scrum.

7pm - Ash Dixon will lead out the Highlanders for his 100th game with the franchise. He will be key tonight and leads his team in a haka challenge.

No haka from the Blues.

6pm - Auckland Transport updates confirm additional trains will operate for the game tonight. Happy travels!

4:34pm - Train services to Eden Park for the big final may be delayed by the after-affects of the tornado that hit South Auckland on Saturday morning, so leave early for the game, if you plan on using rail transport.

Kiwi Rail is advising cancellations to services on southern and eastern lines, while Auckland Transport advises fans to make alternative transport plans to the game.


Kia ora, good evening and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final between the Blues and Highlanders at Auckland's Eden Park.

Yes, you read that correctly - the Crusaders' string of five Super Rugby titles has ended, after they failed to achieve the necessary points differential in their final regular season game against Melbourne Rebels last week.

There will be no 'Razor' Robertson breakdance tonight!

Instead, the Blues will have a chance to live up to pre-season expectations, when many thought they might finally challenge the southerners' supremacy, after nearly two decades of under-achievement.

Or perhaps the perennial underdog Highlanders can ambush their highly fancied rivals on their home turf.

Blues: 1-Alex Hodgman, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 5-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6-Akira Ioane, 7-Dalton Papalii, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Otere Black, 11-Mark Telea, 12-TJ Faiane, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Bryce Heem, 15-Zarn Sullivan

Reserves: 16-Ray Niuia, 17-Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18-Marcel Renata, 19-Josh Goodhue, 20-Blake Gibson, 21-Jonathan Ruru, 22-Harry Plummer, 23-AJ Lam

Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Ash Dixon (cc), 3-Siate Tokolahi, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Bryn Evans, 6-Hugh Renton, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Kazuki Himeno, 9-Aaron Smith (cc), 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Scott Gregory, 13-Michael Collins, 14-Sio Tomkinson, 15-Josh Ioane

Reserves: 16-Liam Coltman, 17-Ayden Johnstone, 18-Josh Hohneck, 19-Josh Dickson, 20-James Lentjes, 21-Kayne Hammington, 22-Sam Gilbert, 23-Teariki Ben-Nicholas

TAB Odds: Blues $1.38, Highlanders $2.85

Blues aim to lay foundation for further Super Rugby success

The Blues maintain there's still some way to go, before they're the complete package they aspire to be as a franchise.

Chief executive Andrew Hore has already overseen a turnaround in the side's performances, but he isn't content with simply being back in a Super Rugby final, as the Auckland franchise aims to cement its relevance. 

The team are preparing for its first final in 18 years, when they take on the Highlanders in the marquee game of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman at Eden Park on Saturday.

The trophy cabinet at Blues headquarters resembles more of a shelf, with their trophy from the Brisbane Tens in 2018 the last to be added.

But they're ready to make room for one more, with a long awaited title now within touching distance.

Mark Telea and Dalton Papalii celebrate a Blues try
Mark Telea and Dalton Papalii celebrate a Blues try. Photo credit: Getty

"I think it's testament to a whole lot of work that's gone on behind the scenes, with the board, right through to management and the team in the way they've approached the last two years," Hore tells Newshub.

The significance of the occasion isn't lost on the players, either.

"For the city, it's been a long time coming just to be here in the final, so for me it's pretty exciting too," says Blues prop Karl Tu'inukuafe.

But don't think Hore is satisfied with simply reaching the franchise's first final since 2003. It's a place Hore is desperate for the team to return to - and stay. 

"We still know there's a lot of work to be done yet," Hore admits. "We don't just want to be winning one year - we want sustainable success over a long period of time, so we still have a long way to go."

Attracting names like Beauden Barrett and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will help with that, but Hore's focus is not so much recruiting stars as harnessing their current ones to build more depth.

"Our focus needs to remain on keeping the All Blacks and great squad players that we have, while continuing to bring through players from our area," he says.  "That's the ideal model."