As the starting act in a debut test goes, Karl Tu'inukuafe's effort in helping his side win a scrum penalty within seconds of running on to the pitch must rate up there.

It was an extraordinary effort because the All Black scrum hadn't achieved much better than parity against the French up to that point. In the first half it even creaked a bit.

But here was loosehead prop Tu'inukuafe and the rest of the pack pushing the Tricolours back and at a rate of knots, the visitors conceding the penalty which put the All Blacks back on level terms seven minutes after the break and it was exactly what was required.

Tu'inukuafe's story really is quite incredible. From overweight pub bouncer to a full-blooded Eden Park test in the space of a couple of years and his tears during the anthem expressed perfectly just what this opportunity meant for the 25-year-old Chiefs front rower.


He was the big initial success story on a night which certainly didn't go all to plan for the All Blacks. That they were rusty didn't surprise but there was some silly stuff to go with it – Aaron Smith's backchatting to referee Luke Pearce, for example.

The combinations just weren't there – again, not surprising – and there was too much static stuff, but, having said that, the final half an hour was quite extraordinary as replacements Damian McKenzie and Ngani Laumape threatened to steal the show.

It took a long time too for the All Black pack to gain dominance and this too probably wasn't a surprise. The step up to test match intensity was clearly evident in the contact areas – the French were brutal here and it's little wonder they are regarded as one of the best defensive sides in the world.

They didn't miss many in the first half and centre Anton Lienert-Brown probably won't forget his encounter with giant midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud, the skipper with the physical characteristics of a front rower.

The French unravelled a bit once Codie Taylor and Ben Smith capitalised on the All Blacks more direct attitude in the second half, with Steve Hansen's men taking full advantage of Paul Gabrillagues' yellow card for a high tackle. Was it a harsh call? Yes it probably was and it cost the visitors big time.

Jordie Barrett was solid at the back and particularly under the high ball. The three brothers, who all stood together for the anthem, combined brilliantly for the first All Blacks try for Beauden; Scott making a half break and offloading to Jordie, with the first-five the beneficiary in the left corner.

There was scrutiny on Jordie after his late-night exploits in Dunedin last weekend and he can be satisfied with his 60 minutes' work.

He was replaced at the back by Damian McKenzie, who announced himself rather spectacularly with a remarkable individual try. There was more to come. Within minutes the little No22 made the break which gave Laumape an opportunity to make a statement of his own, and replacement midfielder did it by running over the top of Maxime Medard for a try he is unlikely to forget.


The All Blacks were under a lot of pressure in the first half but they still put 50 on the French. For the visitors, this doesn't bode well for Wellington and Dunedin.