Well that was a bit rubbish; an All Black display in keeping with their haircuts.
It all started so well too, with Naholo going over after 73 seconds to prove what all the fuss has been about. A few minutes later he turned over possession, which set the scene for the rest of the match, and Georgia “B” had equalised.
There were five handling errors in the first 14 minutes, yet the All Blacks still managed to score four tries in the first quarter. Then, like the Namibia game, Georgia B realised they were actually in the match, and bashed the All Blacks into dishevelment. It was to be over 30 minutes before the All Blacks scored again.
On the positive side, with the exception of the 1991 campaign, past All Blacks sides have saved their worst performance for a knock-out game. A bad game in itself is not so bad; it was the lack of cohesion and composure that was the worry, along with that familiar Cardiff feeling of key players getting bumped up. Nobody epitomised the skittery behaviour than Aaron Smith in the first half. Does he hit the energy drinks in the build-up?
It was like the All Blacks felt they needed to score from every movement, and therefore pushed it too hard. It was notable that the try that ended the 30 minute break was from patient forward drives.
It is never good to see McCaw go off injured, and that does not happen without good reason. He will want to play against Tonga, but it may be wise to give him a rest.
Carter was probably the bigger worry. Remember when we all panicked after the Namibian match when Barrett had a 50% kicking rate? The error rate in the first half was remarkably high; following his knock in the second half he seemed to be gun shy.
The mix in the forwards is interesting too. The 2015 version of Jerome Kaino is essentially a tight forward, which was emphasised by the fact he dropped the ball whenever he did turn up in the loose.
Countering that is Dane Coles who is a winger who hooks and throws the ball into the lineout.
Speaking of wingers, it was a mixed night for the other two. Savea is still not in vintage form but he showed up Naholo in terms of finishing from close range. We are in for a lot of Fijian traditional medicine talk in the next week; Naholo did not look happy when he limped off.
The propping situation was not really clarified. Crockett and Faumuina were impressive around the park, but the scrum went better once the oldies came on. Remembering that it is a 23 man team these days, it’s a good challenge for Hansen and co working out how to shuffle the four of them.
The only thing that will get more chatter than Fijian medicine during the week will be people wondering if Lima Sopoaga has been spotted at an International Airport.