It was so cold. The rain came in sheets, a great blizzard of it, shining under the lights, sweeping across the ground, and there was thunder from just behind the South Stand. Hardly anyone turned up. Why would they. Those who did shrank back into the seats deep under the overhang. Out on the field, the players with fancy haircuts patted their heads in despair.
The defining moment in the game came early: at 20 minutes, the Blues had a try not awarded. Most other games that would have been an end to it, another Blues move that went nowhere. This time, in the following play, Akira Ioane grabbed the ball and emphatically, unequivocally, fabulously, scored.
The Blues took the lead, 10-8, and kept it all the way to half-time.
The vast stadium sat there, grey, cold, unfeeling. The rain stopped but it didn't change anything. It's so grey. Why are the seats grey? It's so cold. So unfeeling. There was music, ludicrously. Half-hearted snatches of dirgy rubbish. Please, Eden Park, you probably can't do much about the colour of your seats but whoever's doing your mix you need to confiscate their record collection. Send them to Hamilton to learn how it's done.
I miss the mud. When the weather turns the game into trench warfare, two sides grunting and heaving at each other all the night long, mud is the least you can expect, isn't it? What else would make it glorious?
The Blues were okay in the wet, their handling good, their forward drive always going forwards. And the Bulls, their opposition, glum slabs of humanity from the High Veldt, they coped all right too. But the game was hard to watch. The players were anonymous, mostly, and nobody sparked anything, mostly.
And then, just after the break, the defining moment of the game arrived: Blues hooker James Parsons charged upfield, the rest of the team pushed up after him, crowding the Bulls' tryline, and lock Scott Scrafton burst over to score.
It was exactly the kind of try winning teams score and losing teams don't. With that try, the Blues had an announcement to make: they had crossed over. They were a winning team now. 15-8. Parsons was subbed off.
Then the Bulls came back at them with a very good try out wide. Constructed out of nothing, exactly the kind of determined imaginative play a winning team will produce and a losing team can't really manage. The kind of play the Blues hadn't yet managed to do in this game.
So they were both winning teams now? 15-15.
Then came the defining moment of the game, the Blues' moment of determined imaginative play. Blues loosie Blake Gibson, running out wide, took a pass, juggled it, leaned forward as he ran and got a hand to it, leaned again and got a hand to it again – this is all at speed – and this time he's falling, falling, flinging himself after the ball but now he's flat on his face and the ball is bobbling away. So close, so not close enough. Ma'a Nonu is subbed off.
Then came the defining moment of the game. The Blues win an attacking scrum near the Bulls' line, Akira Ioane slices through the desperate defence and almost scores but doesn't, they win a penalty and take another scrum, and this time, the scrum erupting in confusion around him, Ioane reaches down and rescues the ball, charges the line again and scores.
It is now true, a certifiable truth of the game, that the Blues have learned how to score tries. Three of them so far and still there are 20 minutes to go. 22-15.
Unfortunately, it transpires the Blues' backline without Nonu has turned into a shambling mess. Passes are floating all over the place, players are standing around like strangers on a railway station platform, carefully not talking to each other.
Then came the defining moment of the game. The forwards hold out magnificently against a manically determined Bulls drive to the line, so the Bulls change tack, flick the ball wide and one of their backs waltzes through a gap the size of a tennis court, roughly in the place where Ma'a Nonu would have been standing if they'd kept him on, and scores. It's 22-all with four minutes to play.
I've tried to write that without it sounding hysterical and I'm quite proud of how it came out.
The Blues begin the steady process of working their way upfield so that, when they get close enough, they might be able to kick a drop goal. With Otere Black having replaced Nonu, and Harry Plummer still on the field, they have two players who, at least in theory, know how to do this. It's not impossible.
At 79 minutes the Bulls concede a penalty and Black, playing the advantage, makes his drop kick attempt. He's only about twice as far away as he needs to be, but you have to admire an optimist. The ball falls short.
It's okay, though, because they still have the penalty. So this is now the defining moment in the game. They're 45 metres out, and captain Paddy Tuipulotu looks to the touchline coach, who is Tana Umaga, with a headset link to head coach Leon MaDonald, and Umaga gives Paddy the word: shot at goal.
That was the moment when real, rugged rugby turned into fantasy rugby. When the game played by tough young men in the miserable cold and wet, who have shown, despite all, that they really can do the job, is taken over by people with dirt in their heads.
Everyone knows the Blues can't kick those goals. Close in, yes. But they don't have a kicker who can do it from far out, on the side, in the wet, when he's exhausted. Their whole season has proved it; this game has reminded us. But they do have, as they've shown three times already this game, a forward pack that knows how to bulldoze its way over the tryline.
At 22 all, with a penalty awarded and a minute to play, the coaches told the captain to order a kick for goal, instead of kicking for a lineout in the corner, which would result in a drive to the line and a good chance of a winning try.
Used to be this team never kicked the goals they could kick. Now they go for the ones they can't. It's not easy to sit in the stands and watch these things. Still, I do know it's easier than being down on the field, having to make the decisions. In the pressure, in the moment, it's hard to get it right. I do know that.
Mathematical improbabilities aside, now we're playing for honour.