OK - the game isn't over yet, so strictly speaking it's a progress report. It's half-time at Eden Park, and it's shaping up to be a pretty good sort of a match. The Wallabies dominated the first ten minutes to take an early 10-nil lead, but the All Blacks have grown in stature as the game has progressed. The first half has ended at 13-10 to Australia; however the All Blacks have a substantial breeze at their backs in the second half.
The All Black forwards have picked up their intensity as the match has gone on, and look to have an advantage. The All Black lineout is a worry though, with too many turned over. But in the latter part of the first half the All Blacks have started to get more players to the breakdown, and put the Australians under pressure.
It's anyone's game, but we're still predicting a Black night for the Aussies!
UPDATES: 42 minutes - a penalty to Donald - 13-all
43 minutes - another Donald penalty and the All Blacks lead 16-13; and almost immediately, Giteau relies - 16-all.
63 minutes - another penalty to Donald, and a miss by Giteau - the All Blacks lead 19-16.
72 minutes - a fifth penalty to Donald, and it's the All Blacks ahead 22-16 - it's not pretty, but it's effective!
All over! A dominant second-half performance by the All Black forwards, and an outstanding defensive effort gives the All Blacks the victory. All the All Black forwards played well, especially in the second half, and they showed a lot of composure in shutting the game down in the closing stages. Richie McCaw had a huge game, as did Jerome Kaino, and we were impressed by Owen Franks who came into the game just after half-time. In the backs, Steven Donald grew in confidence as the match progressed.
So that's first blood to the All Blacks, and one more win in three games will see the Bledisloe Cup safe on Kiwi soil for another season. The All Blacks head off to South Africa first thing tomorrow morning, and though they'll be weary, they'll have a lot of positives to reflect on. But best of all - it was a good, old-fashioned test match; no quarter given nor asked for. And isn't that just what we want?