Six talking points from Super Rugby Transtasman.
Yes, that was Dan Carter level gold
In the lives of great sportspeople there will be days when all the stars align, when every move is rewarded, and mere mortals can only watch and admire.
That's what happened to Crusader Richie Mo'unga in Brisbane in the 63-28 thrashing of the Reds on Saturday night. It was the best display by a New Zealand first-five since Dan Carter shredded the 2005 Lions in a test in Wellington.
If you didn't stay up to watch the Reds game, hunt out a replay.
Mo'unga was so fast, so decisive, so accurate, so daring, there were times when the only fair reaction was to laugh out loud at his audacity and fearlessness.
To say the competition between Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett for the 10 jersey in the All Blacks has heated up is a world championship level understatement.
Was it just that the Reds were poor?
No. Two slightly grumpy teams faced off in Brisbane. The Crusaders only managing a narrow win over the Brumbies last week saw even Scott Robertson, who could win gold for his country if joie de vivre was an Olympic sport, subdued. Reds coach Brad Thorn, after his side lost 40-19 to the Highlanders in Dunedin, searched for something positive, and mused that at least it was "a good experience" to prepare for the Crusaders.
The Reds, with James O'Connor a very good first-five, and flanker Harry Wilson scrapping like Michael Hooper for the loose ball, are not mugs. They were just outplayed.
What nobody could have predicted was that not only Mo'unga, but also the Crusaders in general, would play at Suncorp the most exciting rugby they've played under Scott Robertson's coaching.
In passing, as dynamic as they were, the game still doesn't match the surreal quality of the 2002 game in Christchurch, when the Crusaders beat the Waratahs 96-19. In that match the Crusaders had scored nine tries by halftime, including two to Scott Robertson, and Aaron Mauger celebrated scoring the second by doing a forward roll for the cameras.
There won't be an Aussie team in the final. But the Blues can make it
In the process of beating the Waratahs 48-21 at Eden Park the Blues looked like a side that's shaken off the malaise that settled in near the end of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Two men, at the opposite ends of their playing careers, should keep firing up the energy levels. One is Patrick Tuipulotu, who when he came off the bench immediately showed how much steel he adds to the middle of the Blues pack.
The other is the new kid on the block, Zarn Sullivan, who at fullback shows almost Zen-like calm for a 20-year-old in his first season of Super Rugby, and has a left-footed punt on him that rivals a howitzer for velocity and accuracy.
Like the old days at the Melbourne Cup, the only horses in this race are New Zealand bred
The most disappointing performance by a team from across the ditch came from the Brumbies in their 40-19 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The Chiefs enjoyed stellar efforts from Luke Jacobson and Lachlan Boshier, but if ever the stars had aligned for an Aussie side sneaking an upset win in the Transtasman competition it was on Saturday night.
The Chiefs had to fly back from Perth after a Sunday game with the Force last weekend. The Brumbies, by comparison, virtually cruised up to Hamilton from Christchurch.
Even more than the thrashing of the Reds by the Crusaders, the Chiefs' victory underscored the fact that the levels of Super Rugby are hugely tilted in New Zealand's favour.
So yes, it remains ridiculous that on the other side of the Tasman there are five Super Rugby teams.
Great to see The Bus in overdrive again, but how do you judge the Canes?
Julian Savea in full flight is a wonderful sight. I sat next to Wallaby great Mark Ella on the press bench in Cardiff in 2015 when Savea terrorised the French in a World Cup quarter-final. This is a family website, so, without changing the sentiments, just the adjectives, let's pretend that Ella said "Gosh, that blinking Savea is a jolly good runner. Who would want to flipping tackle that big son of a gun?"
But despite Savea and fellow winger Wes Goosen's heroics in the Hurricanes' 35-13 win over the Rebels, the overwhelming impression from the game was that despite two wins, the Canes are not firing on all cylinders.
The Rebels are what's technically described as crap, so we won't know how well the Canes are travelling until after their game in Napier next Friday with the Force.
Queenstown should be their happy place
With bonus points such a key issue for New Zealand teams in the race to the final on June 19 the Highlanders should target their game with the Rebels next Sunday afternoon in Queenstown.
With Aaron Smith playing as well as he ever has, and Jona Nareki a strike force on the wing, they have the attacking power to tear the Rebels to shreds, especially if there's some winter sunshine on their backs. What will be key is for coach Clarke Dermody to drill into them that while the result is a forgone conclusion, how much they win by makes it a crucial game.