Beauden Barrett said before this test against the old foe, which had the potential to be one of the toughest of the Rugby Championship for the All Blacks, that he might take a pace or two backwards on attack in order to give himself more time and space.

Instead, he was several steps ahead of the Springboks at QBE Stadium, his direction, pace and handling skills (highlighted, it must be said, by his extraordinary no-look, behind-the-back pass for Nehe Milner-Skudder's try) giving the visitors fits every time he got the ball.

The 26-year-old had a poor game by his standards against the Pumas in New Plymouth last weekend, but tonight he was magnificent. He had more time and space that he could have dreamed of as the All Blacks put in their most compelling performance of the season and he added value virtually every time he got the ball.


Significantly, he kicked for goal well - hitting seven from eight. There was no evidence of the hooking flaw which has affected him recently.

The South Africans' heads were dropping after only half an hour in the face of the All Blacks' attacking masterclass orchestrated by the No 10 in the black jersey, but it would get much, much worse. This 57-0 victory was the All Blacks' biggest points margin over the Boks and it equalled their highest score set last year when they beat their old enemy 57-15 in Durban.

The Springboks arrived here with confidence high and an unbeaten start to the Championship and probably believed they had closed the gap significantly on the world's No 1 team in Allister Coetzee's second year in charge. Instead they will leave knowing they are as far away as ever.

Defensively they were very poor, the All Blacks able to create mismatches after only one phase at times, flaws they must rectify quickly before the return match in Cape Town.

Without the injured Israel Dagg, Joe Moody and Owen Franks, this test loomed as a major challenge for the All Blacks and it was one they hurdled in spectacular fashion.

And while Barrett was one of the standouts, all of his teammates played with a ruthless intensity and excitement which would have made it a joy to watch for coach Steve Hansen.

The All Blacks' back three were a constant threat (Boks wing Raymond Rhule might have nightmares about marking Rieko Ioane), halfback Aaron Smith had one of his best tests of the year, and Brodie Retallick's workrate was against nearly off the scale, a performance capped with his finishing a breakout try.

Signficantly too, there was no clocking off in the second half like there was in Sydney against the Wallabies. The standards were maintained and of all the numbers Hansen will enjoy reviewing perhaps the best will be the one next to the South African score; zero.


If this is an inexperienced All Black team undergoing a renewal process, the rest of the rugby world has every right to be a little worried.

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