This match was upside down and back-to-front even before it had begun. To start, the national anthems were played in an order that bucked tradition with the beautiful South African anthem sung before New Zealand's was delivered at it's usual dirge like pace. (Why can't they quicken it up - it's not supposed to be sung so slow).
The All Blacks then issued South Africa with a what I can only presume was meant to say 'we mean the business so you better watch out' by presenting their Kapo o pongo haka. All spit and eye rolling. I'm not really a fan of this haka, but in the past when it has been performed, we've had proud men with mana who lived up to their early pukana by following up the challenge by playing some meaty rugby on the field. Sadly, this was not to be the case last night.
Things started off well for the All Blacks though. (Another upside down moment). Usually so slow out of the blocks, they drew first blood with the gazelle like Isaac Ross crossing the South African line. Stephen Donald brought his kicking boots to the party and slotted over a penalty and a conversion. We dared to hope it might be a good night.
Instead, it decided to turn itself to custard.
A regular phrase in the commentary box as the night wore on was 'brain explosion'. And the All Blacks were having plenty of those playing some of the most dimwitted rugby I've ever had the misfortune to watch a New Zealand rugby team play. They just had no answers to the mighty kicking boots of Steyn who scored all of South Africa's points - with a record breaking 8 out 9 kicks and the only try of the evening. When Steyn wasn't asassinating us with his goals, he was assassinating our hapless and inept backs with his high bombs.
The All Blacks as a collective, fumbled, dropped the ball, missed tackles, got pinged, penalised and told off by the pedantic Nigel Owens. But this wasn't the Welsh ref's fault. New Zealand lost this fair and square because we were useless and the Boks were infinitely better. Why the All Blacks persisted with trying to run the ball from under their own goal I will never understand. We played much of the game (nearly 80%) in our own half. We're afraid of our lineout misfiring so we don't kick for touch anymore. But running it from your own 22 when you've got the world champion expert scavengers ready to capitalise on any mistake you make? Completely idiotic. Brain explosion, brain fart, brain dead.
South Africa were brutal and took it to the All Blacks. Deserved winners, I can't see how they won't win the Tri Nations although in saying that, they're not the best travellers so maybe this might be Australia's year too. Either or. All I know is that 2009 isn't going to be New Zealand's. This isn't a blip, it looks more like a black hole. At least we can all console ourselves in the knowledge that this time, we're not peaking between world cups.