Key Points:

Not enthused by watching the All Blacks pile on a century against the plucky Portuguese?

It was my first game at the World Cup and I loved the spectacle, and I tip my hat to Portugal.

They went into a game knowing they were in for a towelling. But they were brave and pretty intelligent in the way they approached the game.

Sure they don't have the resources and lacked the skill, but I liked the way they went about the game, given their limited rugby package. They did not aimlessly kick the ball away.

They maximised everything they had for the biggest day of their sporting lives - and they weren't about to leave anything in the dressing room.

The point about yesterday's match at Stade Gerland was the sense of occasion. I haven't experienced it since my days with the Bourg-en-Bresse club, based just outside Lyon, in the early 1980s. The noise, the fun, the colour all brought back a flood of memories.

This has the potential to be an exhilarating World Cup and the fans will play a big part in that.

But what of the All Blacks? They were a bit scratchy in their execution - knock-ons, forward passes and a couple of intercept passes - but several players will be the better for the outing.

And I liked their approach. They did not try and go too lateral or be too over-ambitious. In addition, they didn't try to bludgeon Portugal, which would have been a bit pointless.

If you were to rate it as a souped-up training session, I'd give it 7/10. When Graham Henry runs his finger down the players, he'll put ticks beside Conrad Smith, Nick Evans and Leon MacDonald.

The big thing for Smith was he got through 80 minutes, came through the physical stuff well and grabbed a couple of late tries. On a day like this, the tries don't really matter, except they will help his mindset. Now he'll feel he's back in business after his wretched year with injuries.

Smith is important for the All Blacks because he is a different type of centre from any other option at Henry's disposal.

He straightens the backline, which other No 13 candidates don't do as effectively. Henry will be happy.

Evans, who lives in Dan Carter's shadow, marshalled things smartly. His kicking - both out of hand and for goal - was fine, and he drove the team round the park soundly.

This is the second strong display by MacDonald at fullback in the tournament. There is a worry over Mils Muliaina having picked up a hamstring tear.

The heartening part for Henry is he has MacDonald in form at fullback and Smith back in the frame at centre.

Muliaina is an important figure in the All Black backline, but there's no need to try and rush him back.

Sione Lauaki had a good blowout at No 8, got through plenty of work - and he needed it.

Chris Masoe, Aaron Mauger and Isaia Toeava looked like players in need of more game time so they too will be the better for yesterday.

Is Toeava a winger at the highest level? I doubt it, but he can offer cover at wing, centre, second five-eighths and fullback. On that basis, we might see him on the bench for the knockout stages.

But I doubt anyone will have left the ground thinking they did not get their money's worth. They all knew the result before they arrived but there was much to enjoy, if not in terms of a stirring, tight contest, but rather the spectacle.

What now for the defending champions, England?

They were awful against South Africa and, whenever the losers fail to score, it magnifies the outcome.

I was surprised at the scale of the defeat. South Africa traditionally base their game on their set pieces, defending and being destructive. But I felt they were quite constructive in this game.

They are gathering momentum.

For England, as a top-tier team, and cup champions to boot, to lose in that fashion was a disgrace.

Now it's in Samoa's court. They play England in Nantes next Sunday. Win and, barring a complete shock in other pool A results, England will be gone before the quarter-finals. Right now, there's every chance.

Who would have picked it?