NZ 22 - Australia 16
This was always going to be a good game. And to be quite frank, a game I didn't really know we could win. But in the end, win we did, and the beautiful thing was, we won with some extra grace to let the crowd of All Black supporters come away with more satisfied hearts.
The All Blacks started badly and those Australian backs, well as usual, they started on the front foot. Berrick Barnes has magic feet and danced across the All Black line in the first ten minutes to send shivers down kiwi spines. I really thought it was all over rover from this point with the shoddy porous holes in defence left by Nonu, Smith and McDonald. The Australian backs with Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper et al are a potent lot and I've always rated them against our own. Not very patriotic, but very true.
But what was heartening in this match is that NZ came back and showed more mettle than what they ever did when playing France and Italy. An All Black attack saw McCaw - all round saviour - slot in a try and from there, possession and territory was ours. Of course Australia gave us a good game, but at half time when Tialata was subbed and Hore went off for his lineout sins, I kind of relaxed.
We always looked like we were in the box seat. (I might have relaxed too because I'd had a few more wines at this point). There's no doubt that New Zealand and Australia are very even. I think the referee was also kinder to us in general and the All Blacks definitely had the rub of the green. But we also showed real grit and determination from coming back when the chips were down, our breakdown and our defence grew, and that was a good omen, particularly as the game wore on.
What made me most pleased was that the much maligned Stephen Donald played a good game. He slotted the goals over when he needed to and found some important gaps. He comes across as such a nice guy and I for one really want him to do well. Tonight he might have silenced a few of his detractors. I hope he continues to believe in himself and improves in South Africa. I have some faith that he will.
Well done ABs. Phew. I'm proud of you. George Smith, sorry ... (but not really).