TODAY |

Richie Mo'unga catches Blues napping with moment of magic, regathers dribbled restart to spark Crusaders

An epic clash between renewed rivals swung back and forth in Christchurch last night but Richie Mo'unga admitted he put it on himself to get momentum back in the Crusaders' favour against the Blues at a pivotal moment.

The Blues had just pushed their lead to 15-9 following a Rieko Ioane try with 25 minutes left to play but the Crusaders showed straight away they will still in the fight.

Otere Black had his conversion from in front charged down by Braydon Ennor - a moment that seemed to spark Mo'unga to take control of the game back for the trailing home side.

Mo'unga returned to halfway with the ball getting ready for a restart when he noticed Beauden Barrett was sitting slightly deeper than he had during the first half.

That proved to be all the star first-five needed.

Mo'unga dribbled his restart along the ground pass the 10m mark and recollected the ball to catch the Blues off-guard. What made the moment even better was his ability to then get off the ground, brush off two tacklers and run to within 15m of the Blues' tryline before he was finally taken down.

Mo'unga said post-match he wanted to spark his side.

"Sometimes I like to put things on myself, that was one thing I felt I could have done to change the momentum and change the way the game was going,'' Mo'unga said.

"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.''

The Blues may have built on their lead 60 seconds prior, but it proved to be the last points they'd score all night as the Crusaders made an impressive comeback with the momentum change.

Soon after the magic restart, Mo'unga was leading his side once again with an expertly timed double-pump setting up the Crusaders to score and take their first lead of the night. 

Blues coach Leon MacDonald tipped his hat to Mo'unga and the Crusaders for their control in the "little moments".

''We came and scored a fantastic try in the second half, and then they get a charge down on the conversion, which shows how relentless they are in everything they do,'' he said.

"Then Richie is alert, like always, and does a little short kick and all of a sudden we are defending our try line.

"That is the Crusaders, a relentless outfit that keeps on putting pressure on. We chucked everything we had at them, we came really close and I'm really proud of the effort.''