Sea of green but black is still best

By John Weekes, Monique Fischer

The Irish fans shamrocked Eden Park but their rugby team was rolled by a Julian Savea-inspired All Blacks last night.

A crowd of 43,300 packed out the stadium and thousands of Irish managed to transform the All Black fortress into sea of green.

They could not prevent their team going down 42-10.

With his parents Masina and Lina Savea watching from the stands, Savea scored a hat-trick of tries as the Steve Hansen-coached All Black team handled their first outing as World Champions with ease.

"I think we've found our new superstar," said TV presenter Hayley Holt, who was watching the action live.

Tony Veitch added: "The guy's a freak. The crowd love him. Every time he's touched the ball, everyone's gone nuts."

Some Irish fans started leaving the stadium twenty minutes before full time. But most, like Ryan Walsh, stuck around till the final whistle.

"It could've been better, but it could've been a lot worse," Walsh said. He took heart from the boisterous atmosphere his countrymen bought to the stadium.

The Men in Black weren't the only winners. Pubs across Auckland reported a roaring trade before and after the game. Danny Doolans pub in the Viaduct was packed from mid-afternoon, with Irish fans singing and cheering.

At Britomart, dozens of police and security guards kept an eye on the travellers.

From 6pm, a consistent flow of people came through and trains left on time, every five to seven minutes.

Laura Savage said: "It was pretty efficient, I expected to be waiting for half an hour to an hour and was really happy that it wasn't that long."

The station was crowded but not overflowing, said observers. Both sets of fans enjoyed plenty of vocal sparring with the well-lubricated men in green.

There was a friendly atmosphere in the trains, with people singing, and a few drunks, but all good fun.

Only a few fans braved the wintry wet weather and walked to the stadium.

There was no formal Fan Trail this weekend though Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development said it was investigating future Fan Trail events.

"We are keen to realise the legacy of RWC 2011 and the Fan Trail is part of that," a spokesperson said.

"We are looking at what opportunities exist to deliver a full, high quality Fan Trail experience for future Eden Park events."

Outside the ground, All Black fans Tony Woodbridge brought his Ireland-supporting partner Trish to her first test match.

"Rugby is my religion and this is her baptism."

The couple were both impressed with the atmosphere.

"Auckland is starting to do it really well," said Woodbridge.

"I hate to admit it but other places could probably learn from Auckland."

Auckland Irish Society's president Kevin McCaffrey helped organise the hoolie from Western Springs' Fowlds Park to the stadium, with around 700 people setting off for the stadium.

Outside Kingsland Station fans were entertained by a 20-strong brass band and a group of Labour supporters protesting asset sales.

At the turnstiles at the new south stand, foot traffic built up from 7pm but there were no major delays as fans streamed into the stadium.

- Herald on Sunday

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