Richie Mo’unga put on a show of such epic proportions that he is surely now pushing hard for the All Black No 10 jersey as he led the Crusaders to an emphatic 45-13 thrashing of the Bulls on Friday night.
The Loftus Versfeld crowd swelled from the desperately low turnouts previously to a noisy one following 12 000 tickets that were sold for R20.
But the welcome discount and subsequent enthusiasm from the home fans were quickly drowned out by a superb display by Crusaders flyhalf Mo’unga.
The All Black star missed last week’s 21-21 draw with the Sharks in Christchurch, but the eight-time champions rediscovered their touch with Mo’unga steering the ship with aplomb.
In what turned out to be a seven tries to one romp, the visitors went close a few times early on, before making the breakthrough with the obligatory piece of individual brilliance.
Wing George Bridge put in a well-weighted grubber down the left, and the ball bounced over Handre Pollard’s head and into the grateful hands of Mo’unga – who else – to open the scoring in the 14th minute.
The first try may have had a touch of luck to it, but there was nothing fortunate about the Crusaders’ second on the night.
And it was that man Mo’unga who sliced through the Bulls defence, and he then showed off some nifty footwork to evade a flying Pollard.
The Bulls skipper kept his team in touch with two penalties to make it 14-6 after half-an-hour, but the Crusaders had found their rhythm in Pretoria.
The impressive Jack Goodhue put lock Mitchell Dunshea away down the left flank, and he galloped all the way to the line, bumping off Divan Rossouw to score.
Two quick tries either side of halftime by dynamic wing Sevu Reece killed off the game as a contest, and even though Burger Odendaal pulled one back for the Bulls in the third quarter, the Crusaders were not going to let them into it again.
And it was Mo’unga – the Man of the Match – who finished things off in style when he produced two outstanding cross-kicks, the second of which was grabbed by Reece to claim his hat trick.
It was just the wrong result for the Bulls, who now have to face the Rebels, Brumbies, Blues and Highlanders on tour.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders will roll on to Cape Town next weekend, so the Stormers better watch out at Newlands…
Bulls v Crusaders | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 13 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) May 10, 2019
A hat trick of tries from winger Sevu Reece has led the @crusadersrugby to an impressive 45-13 win over the @BlueBullsRugby in Pretoria.#SuperRugby #BULvCRU pic.twitter.com/NTq1pDOMJ5
Bulls 13 – Try: Burger Odendaal. Conversion: Handre Pollard (1). Penalties: Pollard (2).
Crusaders 45 – Tries: Richie Mo’unga (2), Mitchell Dunshea, Sevu Reece (3), Scott Barrett. Conversions: Mo’unga (5).@ashfakmohamed