Super Rugby Pacific: Blues keep laser focus on crown, after dispatching ACT Brumbies to reach competition final

Blues celebrations at reaching next week's Super Rugby Pacific final are muted, as coach Vern Cotter's side maintained their focus on winning the title, with memories of losing the final two years ago fresh in their minds.

Their' 34-20 win over ACT Brumbies ended Australian involvement in the competition and moved the Aucklanders into the decider for the second time in three seasons.

The Blues lost to the Crusaders in their most recent final appearance in 2022 and captain Dalton Papali'i believes that result has tempered any sense of complacency within the camp.

Dalton Papali'i celebrates the Blues win with fans.
Dalton Papali'i celebrates the Blues win with fans. Photo credit: Photosport

"I remember that year pretty clearly," he said of the campaign that ended with a 21-7 defeat. "We lost our first game and then we went unbeaten 15 games to the final.

"We might have had in the back of our mind that it was just going to happen. We've been reminded twice this year - once against the [Hurricanes] and Crusaders - that we can't leave anything unchecked.

"We can celebrate a little making it to a final, because we all know it's a tough season. Making a final takes a lot of heart, but we've got one more job to do.

"We've been in this position and we've failed, so we know what's on the line."

The Blues have not won a fully fledged Super Rugby title since 2003, with their 2021 victory coming in the makeshift Super Rugby Trans-Tasman series that emerged as a result of the competition's restructuring, due to the pandemic.

After losing the 2022 final to the Crusaders, the Blues were thrashed by the same opponents in last year's semis.

With his side due to face either the Hurricanes or Chiefs in next week's decider, Cotter knows a stern challenge awaits.

"It's like choosing between the plague and cholera," he said, when asked which side he would prefer to face in the final. "It will be the team that wins and we'll prepare for them.

"I'm really happy this group gets to go to a final and gets a crack at it. We'll enjoy this moment, but know the responsibility comes as soon as we're in on Monday."