CAPE TOWN – There might not be a South African flavour to this weekend’s Super Rugby semi-finals, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be moments to savour.
Christchurch will play host to a Super Rugby showdown like no other when the Crusaders take on the Hurricanes tomorrow. And while the fixture itself is obviously a big deal, saying that the subplot to that match is just as massive wouldn’t be too big a statement to make.
The battle will between New Zealand’s flyhalf extraordinaires, AKA Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga.
The Barrett-Mo’unga debate probably isn’t one that’s going to be put to bed any time soon. And while the clash of the Crusaders and Hurricanes No 10s hasn’t always lived up to the hype, this time it very well could, considering the form both of them are in.
The Crusaders have won the previous three matches between the sides, and they no were no small victories either, with the defending champions scoring at least 30 points in each of those contests.
Both pivots were hugely influential in their respective quarter-final outings, and there’s no doubt how they go will have a big impact on the game.
So, will Barrett cause an upset and book the Canes a spot in the final, or will Mo’unga’s magic moments help the Crusaders to yet another title?
Mo’unga has been the top flyhalf in Super Rugby this season, and his numbers support that.
He’s scored six tries, 148 points, and produced 10 line breaks this season, while his try assist stats are equally impressive.
The flair with which he can create opportunities and pull trick after trick from his magic box just as easily as he can break the line and do the try-scoring job himself is quite something, and the Hurricanes are going to have to come at the hosts with top defence given everything Mo’unga offers.
Barrett himself, though, has also racked up some impressive numbers.
He’s created no shortage of opportunities, and if the two-time World Player of the Year can give his midfielders some space, it should be an entertaining one.
Both Barrett and Mo’unga have pace. Both can create and finish. Both can spot opportunities that not many can. And both have the ability to bring that something extra.
So what will it come down to?
Seeing as it is ‘finals rugby’ (I’m not a big fan of that phrase), the posts will be as important as ever. And connecting those shots at goal just might prove the difference.
That one kick could separate the winner from the loser. So both Barrett and Mo’unga will both have to pack their best kicking boots, in addition to all their other usual treats.@WynonaLouw