It's game on in Hamilton as a bolstered police presence puts pressure on punters to behave during tonight's Rugby World Cup match between the All Blacks and Japan.
The game at Waikato Stadium is the first of a World Cup double-header for the city, with Wales and Samoa clashing on Sunday afternoon, and police have beefed up numbers to cope with the influx of fans.
Months of preparation will be put to the test tonight as police concentrate on the stadium and central business district, roads across the city and region, and the usual weekend crime.
Waikato Police operations manager, Inspector John Kelly, said his team had already experienced policing large-scale events including last year's World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour in 2005 and three rounds of the V8 Supercar series in Hamilton.
"In addition to officers in the grounds and on the beat there will be a sizeable road-policing presence out across the district ensuring people get to and from the events safely, and to ensure we can respond quickly to any developing emergency."
He said the police, partner agencies including Maori wardens and City Safe patrols, as well as the Waikato public, were used to thinking ahead and adjusting travel plans to cope with the demands of big events.
Extra police including some from other districts would also be on hand for a four-hour Kiwi Cream rock concert at the Claudelands Arena on Saturday night and at the annual Scallop Festival in Whitianga the same day.
Mr Kelly said key to ensuring a successful weekend centred around responsible drinking and police would be taking a tough stance on liquor laws for the stadiums, venues and in licensed premises in Hamilton's CBD.
Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said on average police made 28 arrests each night on a normal weekend but during big events such as the V8s arrests were less than half that.
He said those who thought they could get away with speeding or other crimes while police focused on the World Cup would be foolish.
Both police and the Transport Agency urged motorists to leave early for tonight's game because all roads around the stadium would be closed.
The agency said it expected heavy traffic out of Auckland for the game and its advice to drivers was to leave early to avoid disappointment.
Agency state highways manager for Auckland and north Tommy Parker said motorists should allow plenty of time and aim to arrive at the ground well before the 8pm kick-off.
"This should be a great night for Hamilton and we will do everything we can to keep the state highways on both sides of the Bombay Hills flowing smoothly to help people get to the game on time."
It was also important fans took their time to ensure a safe journey home after the game, he said.
Crowds bypass Garden Place, A13