Preview: Super Rugby Aupiki Final 2024

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Match details:

Where: Eden Park, Auckland

When: Saturday 13 April, 4.05pm

Referee: Natarsha Ganley

Assistant Referees: Maggie Cogger-Orr, Chloe Sampson

Wobbly Manawa

After starting the season strong, Chiefs Manawa have hit some speed wobbles late in the season. Unbeaten after four rounds, Chiefs Manawa were upset 40-26 by the Blues in round five before going down 22-20 to Matatū in Christchurch last weekend. The upshot is that the Manawa must travel to Eden Park to take on the Blues in the final rather than staying put at their FMG Stadium Waikato fortress. Despite the twin losses, belief will be strong in the Manawa camp that they can tip over the Blues at home, just like they did in their 17-10 round two victory over the Blues in Auckland earlier this year.

Pivotal Clash

It’s often said that every Championship team needs a great first five-eighth to set them apart from all contenders. Both teams boast classy playmakers in the 10 jersey. For the Blues, it is Hawke’s Bay product Krysten Cottrell who will guide the ship. Cottrell has been in imperious form for the Blues this year with her slick distribution skills and shrewd tactical play ensuring the Blues are never far from adding to the score sheet. Chiefs Manawa have named veteran playmaker Hazel Tubic at 10. Tubic comes with a lot of big game experience and won’t be daunted by the high stakes of a Super Rugby Aupiki final. With game-breakers scattered across both teams, it may come down to which playmaker can create the most opportunities for their potent outside backs. Keep a close eye on the battle between two pivots at the top of their game.


The two-leading try-scorers in the competition will be pitted against each other on Saturday. For the Blues, electric wing Katelyn Vaha’akolo has crossed for six tries this season and looked dangerous every time she has got the ball. For Chiefs Manawa, classy hooker Luka Connor has also crossed for six tries, often the beneficiary of the Manawa’s hard working and cohesive forward pack. Can either player add to their tally in the final and stand alone as the leading try-scorer in the competition for 2024?

Garden of Eden

It is fitting that the Super Rugby Aupiki final is played at the home of New Zealand rugby, Eden Park. Eden Park is one of the grandest stages in all of world sport, and winning the title will feel even sweeter at ‘the Garden’. Grab your tickets HERE to see Super Rugby Aupiki history made. Kick off at 4.05pm.

Super Rugby Aupiki champions

2022: Chiefs Manawa

2023: Matatū

2024: TBC


Blues Women:

1. Chryss Viliko 2. Grace Gago 3. Aldora Itunu 4. Eloise Blackwell 5. Maama Vaipulu 6. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (cc) 7. Niall Williams-Guthrie 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u 9. Melanie Puckett 10. Krysten Cottrell 11. Jaymie Kolose 12. Ruahei Demant (cc) 13. Daynah Nankivell 14. Katelyn Vahaakolo 15. Patricia Maliepo

Reserves: 16. Nijiho Nagata 17. Maddi Robinson 18. Cheyenne Tuli-Fale 19. Charmaine McMenamin 20. Elizabith Moimoi 21. Kahlia Awa 22. Kerri Johnson (Angelica Mekemeke Vahai) 23. Renee Woodman-Wickliffe

Chiefs Manawa:

1. Kate Henwood 2. Luka Connor 3. Tanya Kalounivale 4. Charmaine Smith 5. Chelsea Bremner 6. Mia Anderson 7. Kennedy Simon (Captain) 8. Chyna Hohepa 9. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu 10. Hazel Tubic 11. Reese Anderson 12. Grace Steinmetz 13. Mererangi Paul 14.Ruby Tui 15.Renee Holmes

Reserves: 16. Vici-Rose Green 17. Krystal Murray 18. Bitila Tawake 19. Grace Kukutai 20. Victoria Edmonds 21. Ariana Bayler 22. Chelsea Semple 23. Azalleyah Maaka

Team Stats:

Tries: Blues Women 31, Chiefs Manawa 30

Clean breaks: Chiefs Manawa 65, Blues Women 50

Defenders beaten: Blues Women 171, Chiefs Manawa 159

Lineouts won: Blues Women 85.4%, Chiefs Manawa 77%

Scrums won: Chiefs Manawa 89%, Blues Women 79%

Offloads: Blues Women 97, Chiefs Manawa 72

Player stats:

Most tries:

Blues Women: Katelyn Vaha’akolo, 6

Chiefs Manawa: Luka Connor, 6

Most points:

Blues Women: Krysten Cottrell, 45

Chiefs Manawa: Renee Holmes, 35

Most carries:

Blues Women: Maama Vaipulu, 62

Chiefs Manawa: Grace Steinmetz, 62

Clean breaks:

Blues Women: Katelyn Vaha’akolo, 11

Chiefs Manawa: Ruby Tui, 15

Defenders Beaten:

Blues Women: Katelyn Vaha’akolo, 32

Chiefs Manawa: Grace Steinmetz, 26

Lineouts won:

Blues Women: Maama Vaipulu, 23

Chiefs Manawa: Charmaine Smith, 18


Blues Women: Maia Roos, 74

Chiefs Manawa: Kennedy Simon, 82