The match was unforgettable, but forget the scoreboard.

In 40-odd years of watching the Kiwis, I can't remember them dominating an Australian side the way they did at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

A two-point margin didn't do the Kiwis total justice — the Kangaroos and All Blacks both have that remarkable ability to keep a match close even when they've been outplayed.

It could have been a 20 point margin, and probably would have been had ferocious little hooker Brandon Smith slammed the ball on the ground instead of a fortunately placed Australian boot behind their tryline.


The Kiwis were also ripped off by league's obsession with forensics when the reviewers went hunting for a knock-on like they were the CIA chasing Osama Bin Laden.

The Kangaroos were humiliated. Make no mistake. Smashed, crushed, destroyed.

The Kiwis amazing 24 - 3 win over a glamour Australian side captained by the legendary Graeme Langlands in 1971 was a bit before my time. And it was certainly a very different era. There were, apparently, 27 scrums in the match, and 24 penalties.

But since the mid-1970s, it is hard to recall a Kiwis side ever hammering Australia the way they did on Saturday night. There have been bigger margins, but we're talking about the manner of the victory here.

This was a complete performance - power, aggression, tactics, skill. Nothing seemed to faze them, not the early Australian try, a failure to turn overwhelming dominance into a halftime lead, or a couple of incidents which didn't go their way.

Leeson Ah Mau on the charge - the Kiwis crushed the Kangaroos in the middle. Photo / Getty Images
Leeson Ah Mau on the charge - the Kiwis crushed the Kangaroos in the middle. Photo / Getty Images

Rejuvenated prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves led a Kiwis team that was totally dominant in the middle. He was my man of the match, no doubt about it.

There were a few candidates, but the official man of the match Shaun Johnson — who certainly had a good test — wasn't the correct answer. Try Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Brandon Smith, Joseph Manu and his wonder pass...young guys who shone under intense pressure.

Whoever gave the award to Johnson must have become confused by so many good Kiwis performances that they pulled a name out of a hat. I'm sure even Johnson would be embarrassed.

Everything stemmed from that middle control, with Waerea-Hargreaves leading the way.

Vitally it gave Smith a chance to shine at dummy half in his first test, and negated the running threat posed by his opposite Damien Cook

It also ensured the giant Kangaroo centre Latrell Mitchell — a scary reminder of Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis — didn't get enough opportunities to create even more havoc out wide.

Australian coach Meninga will be disappointed with his middle forwards — the discarded Reagan Campbell-Gillard will be one of the first names picked against Tonga next week.

But Waerea-Hargreaves, a firebrand who has struggled to live up to his early test promise, was stunning. It ranks as one of the great performances by a Kiwi prop.

In a night of many heroes, two others deserve special mention.

The real man of the match - jubilant prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and coach Michael Maguire. Photo / Getty Images
The real man of the match - jubilant prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and coach Michael Maguire. Photo / Getty Images

Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was denied a wonder try by the Manu knock-on ruling, was so impressive in his captaincy debut that Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck would be no certainty to reclaim his place right now.

And coach Michael Maguire has gone from the Denver mess to messiah, instantly proving the folly of only installing New Zealanders as national coach for so long.

You can't ignore the Maguire effect here, because he found something in a Kiwi side that we've hardly ever seen - it has to be more than a coincidence.

On the down side, if the Kiwis can't fix their wide defence, they will be dog tucker next time. But that can be seen as a work in progress for a scratch combination.

As for inevitable claims a great new Kiwis era has begun, believe that when you see it. Or in other words, we've heard all that before. But there is certainly cause for hope.

Aussie Maguire will, reportedly, insist he keeps coaching the Kiwis if he finds a new NRL club to coach.

But don't leave anything to chance. If you see Michael Maguire around the building, please ensure you make him feel welcome.