Power outage brings test to a halt

By John Weekes, Katasha McCullough

A power outage plunged Westpac Stadium into darkness last night and caused an embarrassing delay in the All Blacks test match.

Westpac Stadium was in darkness for around 17 minutes, resulting in an extended halftime break during the hard-fought 21-5 win over Argentina.

It was understood to have been caused by a "flicker" on the Transpower network.

Power was cut to homes from Wellington to Palmerston North and it took several minutes for the stadium's floodlights to charge back up.

Captain Richie McCaw described the delay as "a bit weird".

"But the best thing you can do is keep your mind on the job. It was the same for both sides."

The outage prompted jokes on Twitter. Gallagher- 09 wrote: "All Blacks obviously paid SBW too much $ cause they forgot to pay the power bill in Wellington! Taking "All Black" to a whole new level."

Late in the game, tempers flared as a brawl erupted between two middle-aged men, who appeared intoxicated.

A witness said that their friends, including two women, joined in.

The fight was eventually broken up and the offenders led away by security officers.

Police said that despite three arrests and nine evictions for minor disorder, the crowd was well-behaved.

It came after a day of wild weather had wreaked havoc across the lower North Island.

Gusts reaching 170km/h led to warnings for Wellington residents to remain indoors, and disrupted the travel plans of thousands of people yesterday.

Rimutaka Hill Rd on State Highway 2 was closed for most of the afternoon and authorities pleaded for patience among motorists.

Some rugby fans trying to reach Westpac Stadium from the Wairarapa faced four-hour detours to reach the game.

Air passengers were less fortunate. Some onboard a Jetstar flight screamed in terror as their plane attempted to land twice at Wellington Airport but it was eventually forced to turn back to Auckland.

Air New Zealand cancelled 20 regional flights and 10 more were diverted to Palmerston North. Sky Sport commentator Scotty Stevenson was travelling on an Air New Zealand flight to Wellington which managed to land safely ahead of the test.

"It was a bit wobbly near the end." He said there were about 40 Argentinian fans on board, who were singing by the time the plane landed.

Fallen trees cut power to around 6000 homes for several hours. The Wellington Fire Service had about 40 calls concerning damage between 6.30am and 1.30pm, mostly about fallen trees and power lines, though some roofs and buildings were damaged. Marlborough, Canterbury and Banks Peninsula were also buffeted.

WeatherWatch's Philip Duncan said the high winds could hang around for a few days.

Meanwhile, the winter just gone was easily separated into a colder-than-average start
followed by an unseasonably warm ending.

Duncan said: "It started off incredibly cold and ended up being incredibly warm.''

Duncan said spring would bring storms and dry spells.

And it's looking good for a dry summer. "Our summer will be better than last year's. It's hard to get much worse than that.''

Please send any photos of today's weather to online-editor@nzherald.co.nz

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