The Crusaders have won their third straight Super Rugby title, but were made to work for it by a brave Jaguares side in Christchurch, with an eventual margin of 16 points after what was an entertaining contest.
After getting the better of the Lions in the last two finals, the Crusaders were tasked with another opponent from the South African conference, as Argentina’s Jaguares played in their first grand final.
However, the travel and might of the Crusaders turned out to be too much for the visitors, as the Crusaders stamped their authority as the dominant rugby team of this decade by taking out their third straight title and 10th as a franchise in just 23 seasons since SANZAAR took over the running of the competition.
Despite the best efforts of the Jaguares rushing defence during the first half, the opportunistic home side took their opportunities better and went into the sheds up by seven points.
While both sides had penalty goals in a contest where plenty of handling errors were being forced by rushing defence, the Crusaders found a try through Cody Taylor in the 24th minute and it would be ultimately the lead they carried into the second half, and a lead the Jaguares found impossible to recover.
Some counter attacking play early in the second half almost gave the visitors a chance to level, but they failed to convert on the final pass after finding space out wide, with Pablo Matera involved in everything for the Argentinians.
The Jaguares intent to start the second half continued in the following minutes, however, the Crusaders defence was up to the task on everything, and another mistake from the visitors in the 46th minute through Tomas Lavinini hurt them greatly, with the Crusaders forced to almost double the tackle count of their opponents to that point in the game.
The home side used the most of the change in momentum, and while they ignored the chance to take a shot at penalty goal with the first penalty, they received another shortly afterwards and made the lead ten, which was always going to be a long way back for the Jaguares with just 25 minutes to go.
Another penalty goal shortly afterwards continued to kick the Crusaders away, but they refused to break in defence, and the Jaguares just had no answers in the closing minutes to the juggernaut.
A further late penalty goal only put the icing on the cake for the Crusaders, as they ran out 16-point winners.