New Zealand 41
Last night was a celebration for New Zealanders but there was also a sense of relief.
For the players, it was relief the World Cup was finally under way after months talking about it. For many fans, it was a relief all 22 All Blacks, and two in particular, trotted off seemingly uninjured.
It was important for New Zealand to win last night but it was also important Dan Carter and Richie McCaw emerged unscathed.
Tonga are renowned for their physicality, and brought plenty throughout after an emotional opening tears streamed down Finau Maka's face during the anthems and there was always the danger the unthinkable might happen. The All Blacks might talk about having depth within their squad, and they do, but two players are irreplaceable.
Carter looked uncomfortable when he came off in the 74th minute and immediately asked for an ice pack for his back but it is unlikely to keep him far from the action in the coming weeks.
The All Blacks were good in the first half last night but won't be happy with what they produced in the second spell. They piled on 29 points by halftime and had where Tonga where they wanted them but failed to capitalise. The fact they scored only twice more in the second 40 was a reflection of both how Tonga improved and the All Blacks lost their way.
Some of their ball movement, sleight of hand and footwork was excellent, but there were also periods that lacked fluidity and times when handling let them down.
It was inevitable that would be the case. As much as players might try to approach a World Cup opener as just another game, it's anything but. Many would have been thinking about this for four years, some longer, and nerves and anticipation are as difficult to beat as the best defenders.
One of the best aspects was the performance of the All Blacks' back three. It is one of the most competitive areas in the 30-man squad and Israel Dagg, Richard Kahui and Isaia Toeava played like they knew it.
Dagg and Kahui grabbed first-half doubles and the three were rarely far from the action. They hit the line with speed and purpose and often beat the first defender.
The Three Wise Men admit they don't know who their first-choice fullback is but Dagg is presenting a strong case. Muliaina has been one of the world's best for some time and his dependability is one of his greatest assets, but Dagg offers something different. His goose step and back flip for Kahui's second try was sublime and his finishing excellent.
But for all of the flashy stuff, it's inescapable that defence wins World Cups and the All Blacks were very good in that aspect.
Tonga aren't Australia or South Africa but kept hammering away and rarely found a way through until Alisona Taumalolo buried his way under a gaggle of bodies in the 72nd minute.
The All Blacks' line speed was very good, they were well organised and they often drove Tongan runners backwards. If Graham Henry ever needs to remind his players about the importance of winning the collisions, he need only play the tape from that defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane last month.
The World Cup has opened safely. It's only hoped it will end with a black team winning like they did on the same field 24 years ago.
New Zealand 41 (I. Dagg 2, R. Kahui 2, J. Kaino, M. Nonu tries; D. Carter pen, 3 cons, C. Slade con) Tonga 10 (A. Taumalolo try; K. Morath pen, con). HT: 29-3.