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5 talking points: Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 5

  • Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Week 5 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
  • The Crusaders beat the Blues 26-15 in Christchurch on Saturday, while the Hurricanes got the better of the Highlanders, winning 17-11 in Wellington on Sunday.
  • The Crusaders are top of the standings with four wins from four, while Hurricanes have moved up to third position.

A vital charge down

For close to 60 minutes, the Blues appeared in control and it looked like the Crusaders were going to lose at home for the first time in 35 matches.

When Blues centre Rieko Ioane barged over next to the posts for the visitors’ second try, the capacity crowd at Orangetheory Stadium was stunned in silence.

Blues flyhalf Otere Black had a simple conversion to give his side an 18-9 advantage, but an alert Crusaders centre Braydon Ennor caught Black unawares and charged down his conversion.

The Blues should have been more than one score clear, but Ennor’s quick thinking gave the hosts a much needed boost and set the tone for what was to follow in the final quarter…

Mo’unga magic sparks Crusaders

Moments after Ennor caught Black napping, the Blues were again caught off guard when Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo’unga did something out of the ordinary from the ensuing restart.

The All Blacks pivot opted to dribble the restart along the deck and managed to regain possession, sparking a frantic period of Crusaders attack which ended in a try for scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond.

Almost out of nothing, the Crusaders had all the momentum and romped to victory in the final quarter – their 12th straight win over the Blues.

Mo’unga’s class was again evident all evening and he certainly deserves to be the current flyhalf incumbent for the All Blacks.

Bet your house on the Crusaders

There’s a reason why the Crusaders are three-time defending Super Rugby champions and unbeaten at home over the past four years.

Saturday’s match was a perfect example.

The Blues threw everything at them, defended like Trojans for most parts and appeared to boss the physical exchanges.

But the Crusaders hung on, and with only six points down heading into the final quarter, they pounced after the above-mentioned moments of magic.

That’s what champion teams do – they remain calm under pressure, possess players with X-factor, and then know when to pounce when it matters most.

It’s a culture ingrained in the franchise that’s won 10 Super Rugby titles altogether.

They should add a maiden Super Rugby Aotearoa crown to their honours list in a few weeks…

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Hurricanes gaining momentum

After starting the competition with two defeats, the Hurricanes have now moved up to third on the log after back-to-back victories.

The 17-11 scoreline should have been more convincing as the men from Wellington bossed proceedings for large parts.

They led 17-0 with half an hour remaining, however some messy finishing from a wealth of possession would have upset coach Jason Holland.

This encounter was a level down from the previous night in Christchurch and the ‘Canes will have to step up a notch if they are to beat the Blues next week.

The Highlanders, on the other hand, will be worried after suffering a third straight loss.

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Barrett, Van Wyk combine for eye-catching try

South African winger Kobus van Wyk again crossed the whitewash in his side’s win on Sunday.

It was an eye-catching try, set up by a brilliant break from All Blacks star Jordie Barrett, whose long off-load landed in Van Wyk’s hands, before the South African showed great strength and pace to round off in the corner for a 12-point advantage.

Van Wyk also caught the eye in the previous round when he bagged a brace of tries in his side’s 25-18 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton.

In late February, before Covid-19 halted the season-proper, the 28-year-old flyer also made headlines when he scored a hat-trick on his Hurricanes debut against the Sunwolves.

Van Wyk played for the Stormers between 2013 and 2016 and represented the Sharks between 2017 and 2019.

But he appears a happy camper in New Zealand having recently stated his desire to extend his stay at the Hurricanes.

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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