The 2019 Crusaders will be hoping for some Mo’unga magic to contain Carlos Spencer and the 1997 Blues in Game 7 of the Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
The interactive tournament puts readers at the match controls to decide which of Super Rugby’s most prolific contenders was the greatest in the history of the southern-hemisphere competition.
The 1996 Sharks beat the 2001 Brumbies in Game 1, the 2010 Stormers stopped the 2006 Crusaders in Game 2, while the 2007 Bulls hammered the 2019 Jaguares in Game 4.
Game 7 pits Sir Graham Henry’s 1997 Blues against a 2019 Crusaders side that capped off a run of three consecutive titles. YOUR VOTE in the POLL below will decide who advances to the next round of the competition.
Henry’s team won 10 straight matches after opening the 1997 season with a 40-40 stalemate against Northern Transvaal (now the Bulls). They hammered the Sharks – a team that rode the comp’s leading points-scorer, Gavin Lawless, to five wins and fourth place – in the semi-finals before smashing the Brumbies 23-7 in the Eden Park finale.
A star-studded lineup was headed up by the mercurial Carlos Spencer at flyhalf, supported by power backs Eroni Clarke (father of current All Blacks winger Caleb), Samoan hit man Brian Lima and Fijian great, Joeli Vidiri. The pack wasn’t too shabby either, as captain Zinzan Brooke packed down at No 8 behind fellow All Blacks Michael Jones and Sean Fitzpatrick.
Like Spencer, Mounga has emerged as the master playmaker for the Crusaders in recent years, including 2019 when the eventual champions topped the log with 11 wins and three draws from 16 matches. Winger Sevu Reece topped the try-scorers list with 15 touchdowns while Mounga deferred only to Bulls goal-kicker Handre Pollard for total points scored.
Will the Crusaders defence be able to contain unpredictable Spencer? Will Mounga survive a wave of runners crashing into his channel? SUBMIT YOUR VOTE IN THE POLL BELOW!
1997 Blues – 15 Adrian Cashmore, 14 Brian Lima, 13 Eroni Clarke, 12 Lee Stensness, 11 Joeli Vidiri, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Ofisa Tonu’u, 8 Zinzan Brooke (c), 7 Michael Jones, 6 Mark Carter, 5 Robin Brooke, 4 Leo Lafaiali’i, 3 Craig Dowd, 2 Sean Fitzpatrick, 1 Olo Brown.
Subs: 16 Jeremy Stanley, 17 Michael Scott, 18 Dylan Mika, 19 Charles Riechelmann, 20 Paul Thomson, 21 Andrew Roose.
Coach: Graham Henry
2019 Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchel Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Will Jordan.
Coach: Scott Robertson