Blues down final-bound Chiefs in NZ rugby

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The Blues were given a scare by an understrength Chiefs side but rallied to finish their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign with a 39-19 bonus point victory at Eden Park on Saturday.

A fourth win of the season put the Blues level on points with the Chiefs but the visitors were already assured of second place and a spot in next week's championship final against the Crusaders because of their five previous wins.

Tries from hooker Kurt Eklund and flanker Adrian Choat gave the Blues a 14-9 half-time lead and debutant fullback Zarn Sullivan added another soon after the break.

The Chiefs, who had six debutants in their matchday squad as they rested players for the title decider, drew level at 19-19 when winger Shaun Stevenson crossed the line in the 61st minute.

Flyhalf Otere Black slotted a penalty to put the Blues back in front, however, before loose forward Hoskins Sotutu scored a fourth try and winger AJ Lamb crossed twice in the last three minutes to put a gloss on the scoreline.

Former All Black Liam Messam, returning to Super Rugby at the age of 37, three years after his last match, ended up leading the Chiefs on the field after captain Sean Wainui limped off with a hamstring injury some 15 minutes into the second half.

The match was a double-header preceded by New Zealand's first women's Super Rugby match between the same two clubs, which the Chiefs won 39-12.