Manasa Mataele has been the talk of the town. Photo: Jeremy Ng/EPA

CAPE TOWN – In rugby, there’s few things as beautiful as an inside pass.

An inside pass perfectly executed. At pace. Resulting in a try. Not a lot of things between the four white lines can beat that.

It’s far from the only superb sight where the oval-shaped ball is concerned, but it’s certainly one of the best.

While Crusaders sensation Manasa Mataele has been the talk of the town – and not only in Christchurch – because of that offload to Richie Mo’unga against the Hurricanes at the weekend, the Brumbies created a magical moment of their own Down Under. An inside ball moment.

The wing’s try-assist was a ridiculous display of skill in their 38-22 Super Rugby win at AMI Stadium on Saturday.

The way he lifted his foot and hinged his knee up to avoid the touchline. The way he practically rolled over on his neck. The way he manoeuvred that behind-the-back pass. It was an outstanding series of outstanding movements.

But in a different way, so was Brumbies pivot Christian Leali’ifano’s inside pass to Tom Banks. And in my book, it deserves just as many tweets and likes.

“That inside ball was an absolute ripper,” was one of the reactions that came out of the commentary box at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

And as much excitement as that phrase relayed, I’m not sure it was enough to emphasise just what a ripper Banks’ try actually was.

The Brumbies fullback scored an absolute stunner. And while their overall 54-17 demolition of the Chiefs was grand, it was the way in which that five-pointer came into being that made it even better.

After receiving the ball after a ruck, Leali’ifano – in no-look fashion – sent the ball to Banks, who ran onto the ball after coming in around the breakdown, before hitting the gap, running a top line and beating a couple of defenders in the process to dive over the solid white line.

Awareness. Vision. Skill. Execution. Timing. Pace. All of those were ingredients to what Leali’ifano and Banks cooked up and served to the Kiwis in round two.

That inside ball was magical. It seemed almost instinctive (which makes it even more impressive seeing as they were past the first few phases). And it was effective, clearly.

That move again showed how pure skill can spice up a game. How could it not?

In rugby, the inclination is to pass the ball wide and exploit defences on the outside. So, whenever such beauties pop up, it certainly is a sight to behold. And it’s certainly something we should see more of.

It shouldn’t be overused, of course. After all, it’s in its unpredictability that the danger lies – just look at the efficacy of that inside-ball weapon against a sliding defence.

And if it happens to be around a ruck missing its pillar defence, it’s lethal. Just ask the Chiefs, they certainly didn’t see it coming.

The Australian teams have looked promising early on, although the competition’s only just begun.

And if they pull off more special moments, even if it’s not in the form of a try-creating inside ball, the likes of Mataele’s offloads won’t be the only memorable moment stealing the show.


Cape Times

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