Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo'unga is pleased to have stood up when needed most, helping his side to a 26-15 win over the Blues in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Christchurch.
After his side had just conceded a try to trail 15-9 with 25 minutes remaining, Mo'unga caught everyone - including his teammates - off guard with a short kickoff, which he regathered to put the Crusaders on the front foot.
The play seemed to inspire his side, as they scored 17 unanswered points to close out the game and remain unbeaten in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Mo'unga said he knew he had to do something to spark his side and as he approached the halfway line, he saw Blues fullback Beauden Barrett standing deeper than he had been earlier in the contest.
That was the moment Mo'unga knew he had to strike.
"It happened so fast," says Mo'unga. The only thing I did wrong was that I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it.
"I had just been told Will Jordan was down and Davie [David Havili] was down getting checked out on the in-goal. I sort of felt something had to happen.'
''Sometimes I like to put things on myself, and that was one thing I felt I could have done to change the momentum and change the way the game was going."
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was impressed with his playmaker's quick thinking, and admitted Mo'unga had tried that in the past, but never executed in a match.
'He's pretty special, isn't he?'' Robertson said of Mo'unga. "He has done it before at training, so I'm glad he backed himself."
Robertson added that the game was '’one of his biggest'’ tests since becoming Crusaders coach, comparing it to their match against the British & Irish Lions in 2017.
The Crusaders have the bye this week, before facing the Hurricanes on July 25.
They hold a six-point lead over the Blues in the Super Rugby Aotearoa standings.
Join us at 3:30pm Sunday for live updates of the Hurricanes v Highlanders Super Rugby Aotearoa clash