Super Rugby Aupiki: Chiefs Manawa dominate Blues to stay unbeaten, claim inaugural championship

Chiefs Manawa have dominated the Blues 35-0 to take out the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki competition at Hamilton.

With COVID-19 forcing cancellation of the scheduled final, the women's championship came down to the final round-robin game, with both teams capable of snatching the trophy in victory.

While the match-up between two stacked teams was mouthwatering on paper, the Chiefs made no contest of the encounter, scoring five tries without allowing their opponents on the scoreboard.

The result saw Chiefs Manawa emerge as the only unbeaten side in the four-team tournament, with respective wins over Matatū, Hurricanes Poua and the Blues. 

Chiefs scored early, with hooker Luka Connor carried over the line by a classic lineout maul in the fifth minute. First-five Kelly Brazier added a penalty moments later to extend the lead to 8-0.

The Blues had their chances in the first half and spent considerable time camped in their opponents' territory, without finding a way through the defence. A big scrum win against the feed proved a key moment for the Chiefs, then the Blues were penalised twice in quick succession, forcing them back to their own half.

Another raid ended, when they turned the ball over in the Chiefs 22 and then penalised again, allowing the home side to clear.

Brazier slotted another penalty early in the second half, then moments later, the Blues were down to 13 players, with props Aldora Itunu and Krystal Murray yellow-carded for separate incidents.

The Chiefs packed down scrum after scrum against the depleted Blues forwards, before Brazier chipped behind the defence for flying winger Ruby Tui to score.

Even restored to their full contingent, the Blues scrum struggled. Their best scoring chance came when Tui tried to keep a deep touchfinder in play, but Portia Woodman knocked on behind her own goal-line. 

Even then, the Blues could not control the close-range scrum enough to finish off the opportunity. Moments later, Brazier provided another perfectly weighted kick for fullback Hazel Tubic to score at the other end.

Chiefs Manawa challenge Blues with a pre-game haka
Chiefs Manawa challenge Blues with a pre-game haka. Photo credit: Photosport

From the kickoff, the Chiefs broke from their own half, with Chelsea Semple sending Woodman away for another try to complete the rout.

Moments from fulltime, the Blues lost replacement prop Marie-Cilia Po’e-Tofaeono for a high tackle and Langi Veainu sped down the right touchline for the cherry on top.

Chiefs Manawa 35 (Connor, Tui, Woodman, Tubic, Veainu tries; Brazier 2 conversions & 2 penalties) Blues 0


Meanwhile, Hurricanes Poua have claimed their maiden win in the competition, overcoming Matatū 18-6 at Hamilton.

Powerful winger Ayesha Leti-I'iga proved the matchwinner, scoring the only two tries of the contest, while the Hurricanes restricted their rivals to just two first-half penalties, holding them scoreless over the final 40 minutes.

With three losses from as many games, the South Island team were consigned to last place in the inaugural women's format. 

Hurricanes Poua 18 (Leti-I'iga 2 tries; Dallinger conversion & 2 penalties) Matatū 6 (Cocksedge 2 penalties)