AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The Auckland-based Blues took a bonus point from a 39-19 win over the Chiefs on Saturday in their final regular-season match in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
All Blacks No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu scored a try in the 74th minute and replacement center A.J. Lam scored a double in the last five minutes — his second try after the full-time siren — to give the Blues a six-tries-to-one win.
The win lifted the Blues level on points with the Hamilton-based Chiefs, who entered the match in second place on the championship table.
But the Chiefs already had qualified to face the Christchurch-based Crusaders in next weekend’s tournament final and fielded an under-strength side, including five players on Super Rugby debut. Former All Blacks backrower Liam Messam also returned at age 37 to play his 180th Super Rugby match, his first in two years.
The teams were level at 19-19 at the start of the final quarter but flyhalf Otere Black kicked a penalty to give the Blues a tenuous 22-19 lead in the 66th minute. Sotutu’s late try broke the tension for the Blues and they dominated territory to also create Lam’s late double, in the 78th and 83rd minutes.
Earlier, the Chiefs women’s team beat the Blues women 39-12 in the first-ever women’s Super Rugby match in New Zealand. Organizers hope the match will be a precursor to an eventual professional women’s competition.
On Friday, the Wellington-based Hurricanes beat the Dunedin-based Highlanders 41-22 but couldn’t avoid finishing in last place on the five-team table, two points behind the Highlanders.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports