It’s time to stop the debate as to whether Richie Mo’unga or Beauden Barrett is the All Blacks best first-five and acknowledge we are lucky to have two such talented players.
On Saturday night in Sydney, Mo’unga’s tactical kicking in the wet was sublime when he also scored two snappy tries and managed 23 of his team’s points in their record 43-5 Bledisloe Cup win against Australia.
Fullback Barrett contributed to one of those tries with a deft chip kick that Mo’unga regathered smartly.
As former first-fives themselves, selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox know a thing or two about what constitutes a champion No 10. And while Beauden is making a good fist of fullback, it was equally versatile brother Jordie who scored a stunning long range try from the same position when moved from the right wing late in the game.
Six tries to one emphasised the All Blacks superiority upon winning their last two games after drawing the first against the Wallabies and giving Ian Foster crowing rights over Dave
Rennie who unsuccessfully gambled on youth ahead of experience.
In centre Jordan Petaia he has a beauty who beat Jack Goodhue, Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett in one scything run leading to Australia’s sole try.
Strong in scrum and lineout and with a vastly superior rolling maul, the All Blacks dominated where it counted and allowed Mo’unga to dictate proceedings.
Led by Caleb Clarke’s stunning test start at Eden Park, several new All Blacks have made impressive debuts in this series, emphasising the depth of talent available.
Hopefully Will Jordon and Cullen Grace will get their chance in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Hoskins Sotutu didn’t reach his high Super Rugby standards but did a nice peel off the scrum to set up Rieko Ioane’s try. He looks to have a bright future and the selectors would also have been pleased with Shannon Frizzel’s development.
Meanwhile goal shoot Maia Wilson has done a fantastic job in replacing the retired seemingly irreplaceable Maria Folau in the Silver Ferns.
With a personal record equalling 44 goals from 47 attempts for a 94 per cent average, the unflappable Wilson was magnificent in the Ferns latest 62-47 win against brave England at Claudelands Stadium.
She combined sweetly with goal attack and captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio once again and the swift and accurate feeding of replacement midcourters Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness allowed the home team to pull away to a flattering win against a team that was forced to leave several of their best in Australia.
Despite this, England’s shooters were also outstanding and it was also satisfying to see Jane Watson and Kelly Jury enjoy their best games of the series for New Zealand.
Having survived a horrendous crash in the penultimate round of the season in Mantova when her handlebars bent, Courtney Duncan came back to score her fifth win of the world motocross championship on Sunday and finish third in her final race to retain her title.
It was a thrilling finish by the courageous Kiwi who finished level on points with Nancy Van De Ven but took the title on a tiebreak by scoring the most wins.
- Ivan Agnew is an award-winning sports writer