There will probably still be some within New Zealand who can find fault with Beauden Barrett's performance against the Wallabies at Eden Park but it isn't stretching credibility to suggest he kept the All Blacks in the test in the first half before adding insult to injury to the men in gold afterwards.

A couple of his interventions in that first 40 minutes were obvious; the flattest of flat running lines on to Aaron Smith's pass to run under the posts for the All Blacks' first try and a decent effort to back up the break by Codie Taylor and Ben Smith to wait for what seemed like an age for Smith to provide another assist on the tryline.

But he also featured in a couple of moments which were probably nearly as important and not nearly as obvious – a brilliant clearance under pressure early on and a try-saving tackle on Kurtley Beale as the Wallabies threatened to cut loose.

And then of course there was his try from 40m out in the second half for his hat-trick, one which few other No10s in the world could have scored given the pace and footwork required.


For the many All Blacks supporters in their sold-out fortress it was a thing of beauty and freakish skill; for the Wallabies a proper kick in the guts from the most dominant figure on the pitch. He was over for a fourth but it was ruled out due to a small knock-on from Ardie Savea but then, remarkably, got it only minutes later after the breakout by Damian McKenzie.

"Just remember, you've got 90 seconds for the kick," referee Wayne Barnes told an exhausted Barrett with a chuckle as he got the tee for the conversion attempt. Not surprisingly, he used all of them. Surprisingly, he missed the kick.

His younger brother Jordie, playing at fullback and looking for all the world like Beauden put through a photocopier at 125 per cent, had a chance to score his own but was chased down by Bernard Foley. What odds on Beauden scoring that one had he been given the chance instead and threatening Jeff Wilson's five tries against Fiji in 1997? (Marc Ellis holds the record with six against Japan at the 1995 World Cup.)

Experience is crucial in big tests, and this was one of those. The Wallabies stood up to the halfway line to face the haka, an indication they weren't going to back down from any challenge once the whistle blew, and they stayed in their faces throughout the first 40 minutes too.

Barrett, playing in his 67th test, has mostly seen it all before. He's won a World Cup and featured in most of the All Blacks' biggest triumphs since making his debut in 2012.

The All Blacks leaned on that self-knowledge and confidence, that ability to trust those around him and in particular one of the most inexperienced midfield partnerships in Ngani Laumape and Jack Goodhue to play a Bledisloe Cup test.

With Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane out there was a new feel to this backline but Barrett was the glue that held it together.

In some ways the scrutiny on him is understandable given Richie Mo'unga's form at the Crusaders. The spotlight has always shone brightest on the All Blacks' No10s. It will go on Barrett again. But right now he's in a class of his own.