Good­hue, Mo’unga and Bar­rett shine in wet

Hur­ri­canes made to look like a wet blan­ket in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

Sunday News - - OPINION -

A dozen take­aways from the Cru­saders’ win over the Hur­ri­canes.

One. Does the win mean that Cru­saders are a lock for the Su­per ti­tle? No, but it cer­tainly boosts their chances. The com­pe­ti­tion is hugely weighted to favour Aus­tralian and South African sides, so to fin­ish top of the New Zealand ta­ble is a mas­sive step to­wards play-off games at home.

Two. As it was in the past, as it is now, as it will be for­ever, the key com­bi­na­tion in a rugby team is be­tween the No 8, half­back, and first-five. At No 8 for the Cru­saders Hei­den Bed­well- Cur­tis, usu­ally on the side of the scrum, got more com­mand­ing as the game went on and his try off a scrum in the sec­ond half was a clas­sic of its kind. T J Per­e­nara is a ter­rific half­back but he was er­ratic at times on Fri­day night, while Bryn Hall had his best game in what has been a very good sea­son for him. Which leads to the next point.

Three. Richie Mo’unga is ready for the big show. Beau­den Bar­rett is a mag­nif­i­cent rugby player but he was out­played in Christchurch. Yes, it’s true that Mo’unga had the ben­e­fit of a dom­i­nant for­ward pack, and bet­ter ser­vice from his half­back, but no­body was there to help when he nerve­lessly carved off 40 and 50 me­tres with clear­ing kicks from in­side his own 22 or steered the Cru­saders down the field with pin­point touch fin­ders from penal­ties. Bar­rett will, and should, still be first choice for the All Blacks, and be­cause of the po­si­tional op­tions he gives, Damian McKen­zie may beat Mo’unga to the test re­serves bench but, if in­jury means there’s a need for a new start­ing 10, Mo’unga is set to go.

Four. We all know it can rain in Welling­ton, so why the Canes were tac­ti­cally naive enough to play as if it wasn’t a freez­ing cold, wet night in Christchurch, but a balmy late sum­mer’s day, is a mys­tery for the ages.

Five. In Ardie Savea and Ngani Laumape, the Canes have two bru­tally ef­fec­tive bull­doz­ers in rugby boots. Why weren’t they be­ing used over and over again close to the break­downs?

Six. ‘‘You win games through the strength on your bench’’ has be­come a mod­ern mantra, which, in the case of the Cru­saders should prob­a­bly be ex­tended to ‘‘through the strength in your whole squad’’. With­out three All Black props, All Black cap­tains Sam White­lock and Kieran Read and new All Black squad mem­ber, No.8 Jor­dan Tau­fua, to say the team’s depth was be­ing tested is like say­ing the Chicago preacher at the royal wed­ding was mildly an­i­mated. But as just one ex­am­ple of how squad mem­bers stepped up, Ethan Black­ad­der, play­ing just his sec­ond Su­per game, looked born to the level.

Seven. When his team needed it the most, Scott Bar­rett had his best game for the Cru­saders, dy­namic in ev­ery­thing he did.

Eight. Aussie ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner was an equal op­por­tu­ni­ties blun­derer. Take two clas­sic ex­am­ples, one for each side, of ju­di­cial weird­ness. Twenty-nine min­utes into the first half Michael Ala’ala­toa tack­les Ricky Ric­citelli and his arm slips off Ric­citelli’s shoul­der. Ala’ala­toa’s arm misses the head com­pletely. An open hand swishes gen­tly over Ric­citelli’s face. Ala’ala­toa is pe­nalised for a head shot. Then, six min­utes later, David Hav­ili loses the ball for­ward and Ge­orge Bridge, in an off­side po­si­tion grabs it. It’s 100 per cent a penalty to the Canes. But in a re­play of the ref­er­ee­ing shocker that al­most cer­tainly cost the All Blacks vic­tory in last year’s se­ries with the Lions, Gard­ner only plays the knock-on.

Nine. Jack Good­hue. Like Mo’unga, an­other ready for the big show. Un­like Mo’unga he may be a starter in the June tests JOHN DAVID­SON/PHOTOSPORT with France. Strong, skilled, and, best of all, smart.

Ten. Please may Ryan Crotty known to all as a de­cent, good na­tured man, have the best, most car­ing med­i­cal ad­vice for his re­cov­ery from a scar­ily long string of con­cus­sions.

Eleven. Ju­di­cial hear­ings got weird dur­ing the week. If Owen Franks tried to say sorry to James Par­sons, should that have counted to­wards a dis­count in his sen­tence or not? There was a sug­ges­tion no south­ern hemi­sphere play­ers are ac­count­able for foul play. Not ex­actly true. Re­mem­ber how Lion Sean O’Brien was able to get away scot free with knock­ing Waisake Na­holo un­con­scious last year?

Hell, the ju­di­ciary al­most blamed Na­holo. ‘‘Mr Na­holo’s body height and head dropped down and into (O’Brien’s) right arm.’’

Twelve. Hats off to the 16,000 peo­ple who went to Fri­day night’s game. Politi­cians who have sat on their hands over a new Christchurch sta­dium for seven years should be ashamed.

Cru­saders lock Scott Bar­rett scores the first try in their Su­per Rugby clash against the Hur­ri­canes at AMI Sta­dium in Christchurch on Fri­day night.

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