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Matatū win Super Rugby Aupiki

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In a stunning upset, Matatū have claimed the Super Rugby Aupiki championship after beating Chiefs Manawa 33-31 in a thrilling final in Hamilton.

The Chiefs Manawa were in control in the first 20 minutes, leading 19-0, but the southern-based Matatū fought back to claim victory in the dying moments of the game.

The Chiefs had been unbeaten in two seasons heading into the final and were favored to take the title, but Matatū’s resilient effort and brilliant performance saw them emerge victorious. The forward pack matched the Chiefs, with loose forward Lucy Jenkins and Canadian lock Cindy Nelles standing out.

The game came down to the wire, with the Chiefs awarded a penalty in the final minutes that could have denied Matatū the title. However, Chiefs fullback Willison missed the penalty, sending Matatū into wild celebrations.

Victorious Matatū captain Alana Bremner praised her team’s emotional win, saying “Our whole team, everyone was running on, jumping and celebrating, and that’s what it’s all about. There were lots of emotions within the group.”

Matatū coach Blair Baxter admitted he was frustrated with the penalty that could have denied them the title, but praised his players for their best performance of the season when it mattered most. “I fully believed that our girls would hang tough because that’s what they are. That’s the type of characters we’ve got at Matatū,” he said.

Chiefs coach Crystal Kaua was proud of what her team had achieved despite the tough loss. “What a spectacle for women’s rugby,” she said. “There’s no better moment that determines the character of a team.”

The Chiefs may have been gutted, but they remained upbeat and saluted the home crowd with their haka after a captivating finale that was another excellent occasion for the game. Matatū’s win marks the first time the title has headed back to the South Island since Aupiki’s second edition.

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