Patrick McKendry runs through the highlights and lowlights from the All Blacks' 23-13 opening Rugby World Cup victory over the Springboks.

Back of the match: Beauden Barrett

Inventive, calm, and with a set of afterburners that would rival even Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe, Barrett had a game to remember in Yokohama. He must be a nightmare to defend against because he can do nearly all and sees nearly all. The All Blacks have remarkable depth at this World Cup but Barrett is a player they cannot do without.

All Blacks fullback Beauden Barrett on attack against the Springboks. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks fullback Beauden Barrett on attack against the Springboks. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Forward of the match: Ardie Savea


This was a consistently powerful display from the loose forward which would have come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has closely watched him in the black jersey this year. Savea was one of the quickest of the All Blacks to settle in the first quarter when they saw virtually nothing of the ball and he cranked it up even further in the second half with a brilliant defensive display.

Work-ons required: Referee Jerome Garces

Should have shown a yellow card to Springboks wing Makazole Mapimpi for not releasing Ryan Crotty when the All Blacks would almost certainly have scored in the first half and then failed to see the significance of a deliberate knockdown immediately afterwards. It was a strange double miss given the officials have presumably been told to crack down on professional fouls in order to keep the game flowing in Japan.

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Sevu Reece

He's a player who will virtually always back himself but not at the expense of a teammate in a better position. Reece, who has happier feet than a certain cartoon penguin, is turning into a rare jewel for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks' kicking game

Much, much better than it has been for a long time. It was a big reason for their success and it came primarily from Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara. The two halfbacks kicked as well in a game as I've ever seen from them.

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Rush defence


At least the way the South Africans executed it. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen hinted that the Boks could be compromised by the way they defend and he was right as it turned out.

The Springboks attack

And the other side of the coin is that the South Africans looked limited with the ball. Their first instinct is to kick, but that's not going to work when they're chasing the game.