2003: Blues make it three
They dominated the first two seasons of Super Rugby but it wasn't until 2003 that they claimed their third and, so far, last title for the Blues.
The scene: February 28, 2003, Chiefs v Blues at Waikato Stadium
Key players: Blues wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca was joined by Joe Rokocoko on the wings for the Blues, Doug Howlett played often at fullback while Mils Muliaina was at centre for much of the year. Carlos Spencer at first five-eighths was in his prime with the likes of Xavier Rush, Troy Flavell, Ali Williams, Kees Meeuws, Tony Woodcock, Justin Collins and Ron Cribb in the pack. The Chiefs could counter with Sitiveni Sivivatu, Loki Crichton, Regan King, Mark Ranby, Glen Jackson, Rhys Duggan and Isaac Boss while up front Marty Holah, Jonno Gibbes, Steven Bates, Glenn Taylor, Keith Robinson and Chresten Davis made for a competitive unit.
The Moment: Five minutes into the second round game against the Chiefs, Flavell was sent off after Chiefs hooker Greg Smith took a blow to the head from Flavell's boot – an infringement that saw him suspended for the rest of the season. The Blues were left to battle with 14 men and the unity that was associated in this particular side came through as they took a 30-27 win, courtesy of two more tries to Caucaunibuca and one each to Xavier Rush and Steve Devine.
Result: The Blues won their first five games of the season, setting the pace from the outset, and dropped only one game during the year, to the Highlanders in Dunedin 11-22. But their early momentum was quickly recovered and they finished the round-robin nine points clear and maintained that form to beat the Brumbies 41-21 in the semi-final and the Crusaders 21-17 in the final. It was the last occasion the Blues have won the Super Rugby title.
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