September 22, 2019 / 3:24 AM / 2 months ago

Rugby-Mo'unga The Explorer channels kids TV character for crucial tackle

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Sept 22 (Reuters) - New Zealand flyhalf Richie Mo’unga channelled his inner Dora The Explorer to chase down Cheslin Kolbe and make a superb cover tackle his boss said was close to game-winning in Saturday’s 23-13 victory over South Africa.

Mo’unga said he lost his bearings when the South African flyer began his 60-metre zig-zagging dash towards the corner, a little bit like the animated, bilingual television character whose adventures entertain children around the world.

His perfectly executed last-gasp grab stopped what would have undoubtedly become one of the tries of the World Cup with a tackle that will take a lot to top over the next six weeks in Japan.

“I found myself, a bit like Dora the Explorer, I didn’t know where I was going. He had me in and out,” the 25-year-old Crusaders flyhalf told reporters after the game.

“He decided to go for the corner which benefited me and I had to kick into a second wind to try and chase him down and luckily I got there in the end.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose decision to move Beauden Barrett to fullback to accommodate Mo’unga in a lethal backline was more than justified on Saturday, said the tackle early in the second half was a “match winner, or close to it”

Although South Africa went on to score two minutes later and drag themselves back into game, Kolbe - who made twice as many metres as anyone on the park in Yokohama’s International Stadium - regretted not adding a couple more to his tally of 124 metres.

“He showed a good pair of wheels. I think I could have gone a bit quicker to his outside and backed myself. I’ll just make sure that whenever there’s another opportunity like that I’ll capitalise,” the winger said. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Jack Tarrant Editing by Robert Birsel)

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