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Mo'unga shines as Canterbury win NPC final

28 October 2017 10:29 AM
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Canterbury have a team-first mantra but it's hard to deny the enormous individual impact of Richie Mo'unga in their 35-13 dissection of Tasman in the NPC Premiership final.

The home side made it a remarkable nine titles in the last 10 years with a comprehensive performance in Christchurch on Saturday, highlighted by the brilliant skills of first five-eighth Mo'unga.

He scored 25 points, a record in a NPC decider, including the first two of his side's four tries.

The highlight was a sterling individual effort in the 24th minute, slicing past multiple defenders from the halfway line to put his team ahead for the first time.

He converted tries late in each half to centre Tim Bateman and reserve halfback Jack Stratton to ice a season in which he has tallied a competition-leading 160 points.

The 23-year-old admitted he was nervous about missing last week's semi-final win over North Harbour after being called into the All Blacks squad as cover in the Brisbane Test against Australia.

"Having a week off and not being able to be with the boys, I was gutted," Mo'unga said.

"To be back in this team, where we have such a great culture, you were able to see it tonight.

"I feel really proud of how the boys kept getting off the ground and backing each other up."

Mo'unga's form has been rewarded with selection in the Barbarians to face the All Blacks in Twickenham next week and he'll probably make his New Zealand debut against a French XV midweek outfit later in the tour.

The other key to Canterbury's win was the dominance of their forward pack and their clinical approach to possession and defence.

Tasman had few answers aside from their lone try in the early stages to centre Levi Aumua, which proved a false dawn.

Canterbury were even more dominant than last year, when they beat the same opponents 43-27 in the decider.

Tasman had improved through the season since their 39-0 opening-round loss to Canterbury but they never threatened to mirror last week's semi-final upset win over top qualifiers Taranaki.

Canterbury were dominant throughout the season with two notable exceptions.

They were whipped 60-14 by second-tier Championship winners Wellington midway through the season and were later stripped of the Ranfurly Shield by Canterbury.

They responded in typical fashion, handing one-season coach Glenn Delaney a title before he leaves for an assistant role at the Highlanders in Super Rugby.

Canterbury have now won 14 NPC titles, two short of the record held by former superpowers Auckland.


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