It is 4.30am and the main street of Kurow - Bledisloe St - is choked with utes.
Black clad All Black supporters are pouring out of rusty, dirt encrusted farm vehicles and into the Kurow pub, where DB and Speight's are flowing, as well as free tea and coffee for those steering clear of alcohol.
Kurow is Richie McCaw country. He grew up near here, staying until the age of 13, and every second person at the pub has some link, some memory of the local country kid who went on to become the best All Black of all time.
Andrew Gard, 34, McCaw's childhood friend, is sipping a pint of beer and working the room. "Yeah, I want him to win for sure but I'm not too fussed. He's done enough already, that bloke," he says.
The atmosphere is tense and expectant as the All Blacks run on to the field. The pool table is pushed against a far wall to make space for the school desks and chairs scattered around the room, so punters have somewhere to eat their plates of eggs, hash browns, sausages and bacon.
When Carter falls to the ground, clutching his leg, the crowd groan and bang the tables. "Get up Carter, get the .... up!" yells a Kurow spectator, dressed, like most of the men, in a fleece jumper, beanie and stubbies. The room breaks into laughter, but it is a tense moment.
Just before half time a cameraman turns his flash on a local eating his breakfast.
".... off mate. I'm eating my breakfast and watching rugby!" he shouts. The crowd laughs again. As the score gets too close at 21-17, the mood blackens and the room falls silent.
The most nervous slip outside to smoke, getting away from the screen. "The All Blacks are defending as if their lives depend on it," the TV commentator says.
"It bloody does!" shouts someone in the pub. Carter kicks his pivotal drop goal and the room jumps and fizzes it's as if everyone is drunk on champagne.
"Whatever happens, I am going to cry," says Carmen Rangi, who manages the Kurow Motel.
"It's just so nerve racking. But they're in there with a shot all right!" Golden, buttery light is warming the faces of the Kurow supporters as 7am approaches, and tentative hope is evident as the scoreline improves to a more comfortable 17-27.
When the final whistle blows, the Kurow Hotel crowd jump to their feet and thump their pints on the school desks, but the overwhelming sense is of relief rather than jubilation.
Silence falls as McCaw is interviewed post match, and his face looks more relaxed than it has in a long time, with a gentle, beguiling smile playing on his lips.
"If you ever get moments like this, why would you ever call it a day?" he says, and the crowd nods agreement.
It is only just gone seven but there is a day of celebration ahead, barbecues and lunches planned to soak up the early morning alcohol.
The crowd pour out on Bledisloe St, drinks and smokes in hand, the community banded tight by rugby, a record breaking win, and their local son, McCaw.
"I hope he'll come home now," says his former primary school teacher, Kate Pavletich. "He has given rugby so much, it's time for him to have a break."