Seven talking points from the first round of Super Rugby with our sunburnt cousins across the Tasman.
Let's hear it for the boys from Canberra and Perth
Super Rugby Transtasman was looking like a big barking dog by the time the first two games on Friday night had limped to a halt in Dunedin and Melbourne.
Every fear that the new competition would be a series of embarrassingly one-sided victories for New Zealand teams was being realised until the Brumbies, and then the Western Force, showed there was steel in the Aussie ranks.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was at pains to point out after the game that the Brumbies came to Christchurch to win that "we're not interested in romantic losses."
Nevertheless, the fact that McKellar's first-five, Noah Lolesio, was attempting a conversion in injury time that would have drawn the game 31-all, said all you needed to know about how hard the Brumbies scrapped.
Losing 31-29 may not have been romantic, but it was entirely honourable, and also gave real glimmers of hope for a close contest in Hamilton with the Chiefs next Saturday.
The Chiefs have the pleasure of a six-hour flight from Perth before they can train again, while the Brumbies, in the wake of an accommodation mix-up, were staying in Christchurch, where they'll apparently have the use of the Crusaders' training facilities.
The son also rises, and rises some more...
Ethan Blackadder's been in outstanding form for the Crusaders, and he hit new peaks against the Brumbies.
Like his father, Todd, there's never been any question about Ethan's commitment. When Ethan was first in the Crusaders three years ago forwards coach Jason Ryan said "What we really like about him is that he's got an unbelievable work ethic. He empties his tank every game."
This year Blackadder's been the go-to man to hit the line in the midfield, where his strength and skill has constantly presented good ball for his halfback.
He'd galloped 20 metres for a try in the fourth minute against the Brumbies, but the electrifying, possibly even career-defining, moment for him came in the 61st minute.
Fourty metres from the tryline he took flight. First he palmed off midfielder Reesjan Pasitoa, and then skinned wing Tom Wright for speed, Wright unable to gain even half a step in a 30-metre chase. Ultimately a terrific last-gasp covering tackle from halfback Luke Reimer just stopped the try, but a point had been made. Blackadder is not only a toiler, he's also a flier.
They finished way behind the Reds and the Brumbies?
How bizarre that the finish of the Chiefs-Western Force game in Perth basically mirrored what happened in Christchurch.
An injury-time try, and then another attempted conversion, this one by Pumas first-five Domingo Miotti, which would have won the game for the Force, misses.
What's worth noting is that the Force were very much the bronze medallists in the Australian competition. They lost four out of eight games. Playing in Perth against the Highlanders should tell us whether (a) the Chiefs were jet-lagged on Saturday or (b) the Force are better than we thought or (c) both of the above.
Hangovers can linger in the mind, as well as the stomach
The fully deserved 40-19 victory for the Highlanders over the Reds was a strangely passionless encounter, lacking the test match intensity we'd seen in so many games in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
To be fair to the Reds, they offered no excuses, but after the emotional roller coaster of their 19-16 title winning victory over the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium six days ago, it would be fair to conclude that they weren't on top of their game facing the Highlanders.
In simple terms, the Reds didn't play feeling grumpy. In Christchurch, the Brumbies did.
So Brad, you're only 46, any chance of putting on the boots again?
Ash Dixon has been a weapon close to the line all season for the Highlanders. Reds coach Brad Thorn would have been very aware of the fact.
But nobody in the Reds looked even remotely likely to halt Dixon, as he scored two of his typical, bruising, tries.
In his playing days day Thorn, who was basically a steel girder in a jersey might have halted even Dixon. "He's easy to coach," said Steve Hansen of Thorn in 2011. "Just give him something to push, give him something to tackle, give him something to catch, and he's happy. And give him three feeds a day. Just make sure they're big ones." Thorn will be hoping more of his forwards will start reminding him of himself.
The Rebels are overrated at odds of 501 to one
There was some terrific running and passing by the Blues in their 50-3 drubbing of the Rebels in Melbourne. Against a good team players like Hoskins Sotutu, Zarn Sullivan, and a revived Akira Ioane would have been hard to stop. Against the Rebels they were men playing boys.
The Rebels were monstered in the scrums, bashed off the loose ball, and in the second half were reduced to basically waving goodbye as the Blues ran to the tryline.
My favourite quote of the weekend, and winner of the "No **** Sherlock Award" for stating the bleeding obvious, goes to poor Kevin Foote, the new Rebels coach, who said after the game, "That's not the result any of us wanted."
Rippa rugby has its charms, but maybe not at this level
In the bizarre 64-48 win for the Hurricanes over the Waratahs in Sydney the level of defence, from both sides, was staggeringly inept.
I worried last week that I was starting to think like Welsh journalist Stephen Jones, who never saw an all-penalty goal game he didn't like, and jeers at our rugby for being all forth and no substance. After being bored by the slap and tickle that passed for a rugby game in Sydney I'm even more concerned I may be morphing into Jones.
Note to editor: If, like Jones, I start writing that Dan Carter is only the 10th best first-five of all time, my breakdown is complete, and please stop running this column.