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Richie Mounga compared Robertson to an NBA superstar

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson praised his all-star top five after the Crusaders upset the Blues 21-7 in the Super Rugby Pacific final at Eden Park.

While the ball spoiled the Blues’ possession at standard time, it was the Crusaders’ play riders who upped the pressure with clever tactical kicks to keep the Blues in their own half for most of the game.

Two-thirds of the Crusaders’ hits that evening were either ballistic or attacking, grubbers, counters or cross-field kicks that constantly put pressure on the Blues defenders on a rainy night on slippery surfaces.

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This strategy paid off in the closing moments as Sevu Rees intercepted a shot from Pablo Matera after the Blues failed to secure a bouncing ball in the outfield. Rhys’ try almost ended the game with five minutes left.

Roberston compared Richie Mounga to NBA superstar Steph Curry and called him a “franchise quarterback” for his ability to run the game and keep the park in check.

“In the first 50 minutes, my lord, after that we got a little off track, but the pressure we wanted to put on the Blues happened,” said Robertson. Sky Sports, New ZealandPost match interview.

“Richie Moe, franchise quarterback, what a player. He is Steph Curry for us, we just love him and we just got back up like he did in the last six finals.

“We were just happy that we were able to field our entire team. To get such a result is a special case.”

When asked if tactical kicks against the Blues were part of the game plan, Richie Moung’s top five admitted that they weren’t, but that the defenders played with what was in front of them and hit when needed.

Mo’unga said the Crusaders wanted to play at a fast pace and play with freedom in their quest to win their title six times in a row.

“Honestly, it wasn’t [the plan]Mo’unga said.

“He was determined to play. In that first half, there were moments and passes where we moved the ball from side to side, really put pressure on them.

“As defenders, we just saw the space and attacked. Coming into this game, we wanted to have the freedom to untie the shackles, not give in to the pressure of chance, just play heads-up, and that’s what we do as Crusaders.”

The pressure play used by the Crusaders began at the touchline, an area that Robertson admitted his team deliberately targeted.

Blues prostitute Kurt Eklund struggled to achieve his goals in what appeared to be a failed line-up operation. At times, the Blues have struggled to get their jumpers up in the air, or tried the drop option to no avail.

The Blues made just 47% of their shots compared to a season average of 77%.

“Yes, it was,” Robertson said of whether they were going to target the Blues’ line.

“We wanted to put pressure on Eklund and come forward, we knew they slowed down their calls from time to time.

“We wanted pressure immediately from the front line. We started first and we had wind so it was a big challenge and they just didn’t come out of their half for a long period of time.

“We won a lot of difficult balls. I’m just so proud, it’s something special to do it here in the Garden.”

Richie Mounga described the victory as “special” after he had his “back against the wall”. The Crusaders lost to the Blues 27–23 at home in a pivotal early-season clash that gave the Oakland club a home field advantage.

Armed with a point to prove in the final after a round robin loss, Mounga said that’s when the Crusaders are at their best.

“It’s just special. Putting everything into the season, setting a goal of winning six in a row, and achieving it here in Oakland is just something special,” he said.

“Of course they overtook us during the round robin, but we just wanted to get that feeling by coming up here with our back against the wall and that’s when we perform at our best.

“Back to the wall, something to prove, come here to the City of Sails, I’m just delighted.”

With six Super Rugby titles in six years, Mounga was reluctant to call the title the sweetest of them all, instead pointing out that he was not finished winning titles in Christchurch after signing for another year in 2023.

“The next one is the sweetest,” said Mo’unga.

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