Ten talking points from the All Blacks' 47-26 loss to Australia
Damn you, Fitzsimons
As I reported here two days ago, Sydney columnist Peter Fitzsimons wrote this before the test in Perth: "It's over to you religious types. I have gently derided your collective absurdities for years. But, I told you, I give up. Friends, it's time to pray for a Wallaby victory. See if that works."
Miracles, we now know, occur in the strangest of places. The Wallabies played like world champions. They punted on halfback Nic White, and he was sensational. They welcomed back from the naughty corner James O'Connor, and he was on fire. They beat the All Blacks 47-26. I presume that the water turned to wine at the after match function.
We could argue this forever
Scott Barrett became the fourth All Black to be sent off in a test after he was sent from the field 38 minutes into the loss to the Wallabies. The first was Cyril Brownlie in 1924 at Twickenham.
Maybe that was right, or maybe not. There's no video evidence. But we know that Colin Meads being ordered off against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1967 was a nonsense.
Film of the moment shows there's clear air between Meads' boot, and the Scottish halfback he was supposed to have kicked.
Sonny Bill Williams' red card in 2017 in Wellington was the right call, as Williams forgot that, unlike league at the time he started in that game, you can't shoulder charge in rugby.
Barrett in Perth was, at best, a 50/50 call for a yellow card, much less a red. He's a player with an impeccable record for clean play. In his entire career with the Crusaders he's never even been yellow carded.
Chris Rattue: Humiliated All Blacks have lost their aura
I hate what are called clean outs at breakdowns, but they now happen in every professional game.
Brodie Retallick's shoulder was dislocated by one against the Springboks in Wellington. That incident was dismissed without complaint by All Black coach Steve Hansen, who said "it's a big boys' game".
If what Scott Barrett did to Michael Hooper in Perth was a red card offence, and every referee acted the same way that Jerome Garces did ("it's clearly dangerous"), most rugby tests would be reduced to seven a side contests.
Why is Jerome always in the vicinity of the crime?
The Wallabies were already red hot when Barrett was sent off, but any real chance of an All Black comeback was snuffed out with 42 minutes to go.
And in case you couldn't quite remember, yes, Garces was assistant referee who spoke offline to referee Romain Poite in 2017 when Poite reversed his initial, correct, decision to award a penalty to the All Blacks which would probably have won the test at Eden Park, and the series against the Lions for New Zealand.
And, no, World Rugby has never replied to the New Zealand request for a "please explain" over Poite's appalling decision.
A reason to be afraid if you're a rugby fan
The most disconcerting thing I heard all week was Martin Devlin reporting that he'd trialled the new lower grade Spark sport streaming, and it was, in his words, "like looking at an old VHS tape."
If the quality that Spark provides for the games not on TVNZ (which would include, for example, Australia playing Wales in the second weekend) is not up to scratch, then Spark might need to hire a stadium full of call centre experts to face the wrath of viewers.
A reason to be afraid if you're an All Blacks fan
The Springboks, on a hard ground, with a dry ball, were sensational as they whipped the Pumas 46-13 in Salta, a city near the Andes in Argentina.
The South Africans have a forward pack of steely eyed behemoths, but the huge strides they've made under coach Rassie Erasmus have been in regarding the backline as not much more than kick chasers.
Now they're a genuine attacking threat. When we meet them in Yokohama in the first game of the World Cup in six weeks, it's potentially a preview of the final.
A reason to be terrified if you're an All Blacks fan
The referee for the South African game in Yokohama is Jerome Garces. One of his assistants will be Romain Poite.
His moustache looks x-rated, but his game was an A+
Nic White shook the dust of Aussie rugby off his boots four years ago when Michael Cheika didn't pick him in the 2015 World Cup Wallabies' squad.
He left the Brumbies and headed to France, and then Exeter in England. Bringing him back without White having played any super rugby this year was a huge punt by Cheika that paid off in spades.
All Black video analysts looking at White's moustache may have the uncomfortable feeling that somehow they've stumbled into a 70s blue movie. The havoc White caused on attack will just make them uncomfortable.
Should have gone to Specsavers
In the 12th minute in Perth, just after he kicked the ball in field for what became a try to Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue was smashed in a shoulder charge by Kurtley Beale.
They were almost touching distance from assistant referee Shuhei Kubo. There wasn't a peep out of Kubo to referee Garces.
When the All Blacks play Namibia on October 6 in Tokyo Kubo will be running the touchline.
I see a light in the darkness, and I don't think it's a train
Kieran Read had an outstanding game, with the leap and tap for the consolation try to Ngani Laumape a sign that the All Black captain is near top form again after his recovery from neck surgery.
With a seven-man scrum, it was impossible to judge how well the change worked having Ardie Savea pack at No.8 when the All Blacks were feeding the scrum, but the concept has massive potential. In passing, Savea has been the best forward in New Zealand this season, but he should cut out primary school nonsense like clipping Michael Hooper in the back of the head after the whistle has gone.
The day might come in a tight game when winning or losing could swing on something as silly as that.
Worry, as Steve Hansen says, is a wasted emotion
Was the pounding the All Blacks suffered in Perth concerning? Of course. Have they suddenly turned into a useless team, and has Hansen gone from being a brilliant coach to a bad one overnight? Of course not.
But you might think so if you take to heart some of what's online, on-air, and in print. Look at what one columnist had to say.
"Make no mistake, the result was not a fluke. It has been coming for a while. It has been coming because New Zealand have been playing predictable rugby for 18 months now."
The only trick is that the quote is from 2015, after the All Blacks lost in Sydney, exactly four years and two days before the test in Perth. In 2015 New Zealand then went on to win the World Cup and be the best team the tournament has ever seen.
When the Wallabies come to Eden Park next Saturday, if it's a 15 versus 15 contest for 80 minutes, and Australia triumph again, that will be the time to be spooked.