There was a special feeling at Eden Park as the All Blacks defeated the Wallabies 30-14 in front of an expectant Auckland crowd, retaining the Bledisloe Cup and putting themselves in a great position to take the 2011 Tri Nations title.
Yesterday there were a number on internationals taking place, with some sides looking more impressive than others. In fact, perhaps the All Blacks (of the New Zealand variety) were the only side that looked like anything worthy of taking the big title in a few months time. They’re yards ahead of the opposition at this stage.
But, that is what these warm up games, and the Tri Nations, are all about.
The Wallabies were outplayed, and despite scoring a brilliant try through Digby Ioane, and a consolation try to flatter the scoreline, they were off the pace. New Zealand on the other hand, looked possessed, tackling everything that moved. They made 116 tackles, missing just 21.
Conrad Smith was playing on another level, while for Australia, Will Genia and Quade Cooper seemed anonymous behind a pack that wasn’t getting much go-forward.
In many ways it looked like a dress rehearsal for the World Cup for them, and if they play like for the next two months, will be very tough to beat in front of their home crowd.
Maintaining that level of intensity will be the challenge, and a fascinating prospect for rugby fans around the globe. For now though, they’re in the driving seat of this Tri Nations campaign, way out in front on 9 points having played two and won two.
They will play South Africa in two weeks time, before returning to New Zealand to face the Wallabies again on 27 August. We’ll have highlights of the rest of yesterday’s games shortly.