Many years ago, South Africa beat Scotland by 49-nil in a rugby international, and a reporter coined the phrase that "Scotland was lucky to get nil".
We predicted yesterday that the Irish might have trouble getting up for this game after the huge effort they put in last Saturday night, and so it came to prove. The All Blacks must have had a few rockets from the coaching team; they were absolutely ruthless last night, and the Irish had no answer. The result was a 60-nil thrashing.
Perhaps those days in Queenstown had put the Irish into end-of-tour mode, with their minds already on the plane. Still, Fergburger Cafe in Queenstown will doubtless have been grateful for Brian O'Driscoll's post-match plug.
In culinary terms, the Irish were burger and chips last night, and the All Blacks were a three-course dinner, with all the trimmings. The loose trio of Cane, McCaw and Messam (who grew into the game after a quiet first half) were relentless. Sam Cane had an outstanding match, and those of us who were worrying about a successor for Richie McCaw can breathe a little easier. We want to see how he goes against Australia or South Africa before annointing Cane though. Likewise Luke Romano took a while to adapt to the pace of the game, but by the second half he was playing like a seasoned test veteran. His side of the scrum was noticeable more robust as well.
In the backs the two Aarons were wonderful and creative. Smith's passes are long, fast and accurate, and there was one movement early in the match where Smith set the backs alight with a bullet pass, and the ball got out from one side of the field to Ben Smith's wing on the other in just three passes. Aaron Cruden ran at the line and created all sorts of problems for Ireland's inside defence. And even when Cruden went off injured, Beauden Barrett stepped in and nothing much changed.
We suggested that the inside back combinations would be a key, and so it proved. Sonny Bill Williams had his best match for New Zealand, even setting up a late try with a deft kick through. But he ran off Cruden just as he has done all season for the Chiefs, and Ireland struggled to contain him. Steve Hansen's post-match comment that Williams now understands rugby and isn't just a convert was right on the money in our ever-humble opinion.
The Irish were disappointing, and you now have to wonder how much of last week's match was as a result of a sub-par All Black performance. The All Blacks certainly made amends last night, whereas the Irish failed to fire. Brian O'Driscoll acknowledged after the match that his side had been awful, and this time, he was one of the major culprits.