Boilover in the "cauldron" as new Super Rugby champions are crowned.
Super Rugby crowned a new champion after the Highlanders shocked the Hurricanes in the 2015 decider. The majority of the packed-to-capacity Westpac Stadium had their dreams of witnessing a first-ever premiership lifted by the home side in Wellington dashed away by the team from Otago. After running away with top spot during the regular season and after putting on a clinic against the Brumbies in the semi-final last weekend, much more was expected from the Hurricanes in the penultimate match. After suffering a blow heading into the final with Ardie Savea forced to withdraw through injury, the Hurricanes struggled to match the intensity of the Highlanders from the opening minute. It was a very different performance from the Highlanders compared to the last time they faced their grand final opponents, head coach Jamie Joseph and his team bouncing back from a heavy 56-20 defeat in round 17.
Elliot Dixon's try on the stroke of half-time was controversial; the eventual man of the match made a barnstorming run, taking Hurricanes players with him to the line, but TMO Ben Skeen ruled that Dixon applied a sufficient amount of pressure on the ball. Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd believed it was the wrong decision. In the end, a converted try was what separated the two teams ...
Regardless of whether the try was the right call or not, Dixon and his team-mates in the forward pack, who have performed so tremendously this season, must have at least put All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on notice after not one of them was picked for the up-coming Rugby Championship. Maybe he'll keep them in the back of his mind once the World Cup commences later this year. Highlanders players in the All Blacks' squad will be a constant threat to the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup. Key players such as Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Nahalo and Liam Sapoaga will be hoping to impress Hansen in what is already a Kiwi squad full of talent.
Departing Hurricanes players Ma'a Nonu, Ben Franks, Chris Smylie, Jeremy Thrush, Rey Lee-Lo and captain Conrad Smith were unable to end their tenure on a high, rather, it was the opposition's captain who was able to end with a fairytale finish. Nasi Manu, "The Blind Bandit", had to lead his side with pieces of tape holding his right eye open after suffering a knock against the Waratahs last week.2015 Super Rugby Final: Hurricanes def. by Highlanders 14-21.