It's sweet revenge for the All Blacks after this morning's bruising 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham, but Dan Carter and Tony Woodcock have been ruled out of next weekend's test against Ireland in Dublin. Another win would be the All Blacks' 14th of the season and would represent a perfect year in terms of results.
First-five Carter's departure after only 26 minutes with a right Achilles injury was a cruel blow for a player celebrating his 100th test. He won't play again until the second half of next year due to his sabbatical and the break will be necessary to get his increasingly troublesome body right.
Prop Woodcock strained a hamstring just before halftime and didn't return after the break.
Coach Steve Hansen confirmed Carter's injury, saying it was the opposite Achilles to the one he ruptured in 2009 during his short season with Perpignan.
"It's been rumbling away for a while,'' Hansen said of Carter's lower leg problem.
"He's obviously very sore. It's not ruptured, I wouldn't think, but we won't know that until we get some scans. It's disappointing for him again. He's had a wretched time with injuries but he made a major contribution I thought during the time he was on. He kicked really well and put us in the right places. He did well. And to 100 caps is no mean feat.''
Pulling out to a 17-3 lead thanks to tries from wing Julian Savea and Kieran Read, the All Blacks appeared to be cruising until the English came back and threatened to repeat their shock victory of last year. They took a 22-20 lead into the final quarter until an improving All Blacks lineout -with Sam Whitelock celebrating his 50th test to the fore - and fresh impetus from the reserves got them home. Savea's second try in a man of the match performance after spending time in a Paris hospital last week due to a lung infection put his side back in front.
"If you broke the game down into quarters, the first 20 we controlled, the next 20 they controlled, the next 20 was probably shared and then we managed to get on top,'' Hansen said. "We started to dig into their lineout ball, the quality of their lineout ball and the few scrums we had, we started to put some pressure on them. That was really pleasing from our point of view.
"Mentally we were in front of a lot of the game and saw our lead slip away and when that happens that can pray on your mind but it didn't. The guys stayed with the process and stayed connected with each other and stayed on top.''
Skipper Richie McCaw often appeared bemused by referee Craig Joubert's rulings at the breakdown. No8 Read was sinbinned for coming around the side and the constant penalties to England in this area kept them in the match.
"We needed to play with field possession and the ball because we had neither,'' McCaw said.
"There's no point in worrying about blowing a lead. You've just got to stick to what you have to do next. The key to getting back on top was getting to the right end of the field and holding on to the ball. We showed when we did that we put them under quite a lot of pressure and scored a try.
"We realised it was going to be a battle and that's what it was.''
Hansen said England's approach to the breakdown caused his side problems, adding it was up to the All Blacks to adjust and that their discipline at times was "average".
"From what I'm seeing, you can seal off the ball and go off your feet, whereas in the southern hemisphere that just gets smashed. You not allowed to do it. It's something that we have to adapt to.''
McCaw added: "I was frustrated that we were giving away those penalties ... There's not point bitching and moaning. The key is we have to adapt ... it took us a while to do that today.''
England coach Stuart Lancaster said: "We're desperately disappointed that having got to 22-20 we couldn't close out the game. but I'm very proud of the effort from the players. Credit to New Zealand, they're a champion side.''