After drawing the first test of the year 16-all, the All Blacks have gone from strength to strength, with their most recent outing especially impressive. The New Zealanders outclassed the Wallabies in Bledisloe III in Sydney, winning 43-5 in a record-breaking performance.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga was central to the visitors dominance, guiding his side to a decisive victory with a nearly perfect game.
The 26-year-old scored 23-points at ANZ Stadium, including a six-minute double half-way through the first half. Mo’unga also came close to scoring what would’ve been his third just before the break but was tripped up by Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty five metres from the try-line.
He also had one try assist on the night, sending Jordie Barrett through a gap with just over six minutes left on the clock. Barrett ran the second most metres of any player on Saturday, bettered only by Mo’unga who ran 30 metres more for 101.
Richie Mo’unga was a freak last night in Sydney. We know you want to see his highlights package ? pic.twitter.com/l1hEFijMAs
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 1, 2020
Bledisloe III was arguably the coming of age of Mo’unga in a black jersey. Many fans and pundits have said over the past few seasons that he’s been the best flyhalf in New Zealand, winning four-straight Super Rugby titles including Super Rugby Aotearoa.
But he’s been unable to consistently replicate that form in the test arena – certainly not to the level that we saw on Saturday.
All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara said on Sunday morning that he “expected” a performance like that from Mo’unga, after seeing what he’s done for both the Crusaders and at training. He added that while watching the flyhalf’s performance, that he couldn’t help but think “man, that’s a bad man out there.”
Mo’unga’s showing of skill, patience and class definitely turned heads, with fans on Twitter singing the praises of the All Blacks pivot.
Initially thought he struggled to take the Crusaders form to the All Blacks… banished any doubts with this masterclass??????????
— Phuti Pooe (@P1Savage) November 1, 2020
I have to agree Richie stepped up in game 3. 1 & 2 he was still sleeping. Just when we needed everyone to be at their best and they delivered. We’ll done all round
— Eric Chow (@tawaniwai) November 1, 2020
Outstanding performance. A joy to watch.
— ODC ??????????? (@odcous2019) November 1, 2020
He was brilliant??
— Mark Muchai (@Muchaiki) November 1, 2020
Richie Mo’unga is the most talented and best performing rugby player in the world today ??
— ChiWAP-onised Dark Force ?? (@Dangurangu) October 31, 2020
Richie Mo’unga seems to have landed the lead role in A Perfect 10 the sequel. pic.twitter.com/muxKyKRy3J
— Phillip Rollo (@ByPhillipRollo) October 31, 2020
Could watch Richie Mo’unga play rugby all day, quality player.
— Ross Jones (@RossJones1992) October 31, 2020
— Mark Rogers (@markarogers) October 31, 2020
Richie Mo’unga really is something else ?@AllBlacks
— David Owen (@DavidOwen10) October 31, 2020
Richie Mo’unga ????? 5 Star performance ??? what a player he has been in 2020 ?? he just keeps doing his thing ????? Super Player
— Maorio ? (@Doc_Torio) October 31, 2020
This is the Richie Mo’unga we’ve been wanted to see in a black jersey!!! ??? https://t.co/MUqaLcKUau
— James?? (@CFCJames56) November 1, 2020
If I was making a best XV michael Hooper would be the first name on my team sheet. Class act.
Seems like richie mo’unga might be getting on there too!
— Matt ??????? (@MattsWanderings) October 31, 2020
— Kephren Izzard (@KephIzzard) October 31, 2020
Shades of Dan Carter there from Richie Mo’unga. #BledisloeCup
— Sam Hill (@5amHill) October 31, 2020
Mo’unga’s Player of the Match performance also reignites the debate surrounding the dual playmaker strategy that the All Blacks have adopted.
Beauden Barrett, who won two World Rugby Player of the Year titles at flyhalf, was switched to fullback in an effort to accommodate Mo’unga in the All Blacks starting side.
Barrett was phenomenal in Bledisloe II, but was kept quiet two weeks later in Sydney, held to just 15 run metres. The two did link up for Mo’unga’s second try though, with Barrett placing a nicely weighted chip kick in behind the Wallabies defensive line for his flyhalf to chase.
Mo’unga stepped up and controlled the All Blacks attack while the hosts managed Barrett, which as fans on Twitter have suggested, bodes well for the future of the tactic.
Prefer “twin playmakers”. Interesting that this lead to Mo’unga attacking running game featuring. Richie’s try from the chip was a sublime bit of play, and how fitting that Beauden was on his shoulder as he ran to score.
— Aidan (@allsumnull) October 31, 2020
Switching the best 10 in the world to 15 to make room for this guy? pic.twitter.com/0GS54LK58r
— Steve Raymond (@steveray) November 1, 2020
Even in the face of Barrett (arguably the most gifted player for a generation) – Richie Mo’unga has cemented himself as the standalone 10 in world rugby.
— Jake Kane (@JakeKane2) October 31, 2020
When Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett are clicking you can’t make any mistakes. And the Wallabies have made plenty. Kind of a tough match to watch.
— Stuart Penninger (@StairmasterStu) October 31, 2020
The All Blacks take on the Wallabies for the fourth and final time this year in Brisbane this Saturday, with the Bledisloe Cup already locked up.
The clash will also serve as the second Tri Nations fixture, with that silverware still up for grabs. Both teams are set to face Argentina in the weeks following Bledisloe IV.
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