The All Blacks took a giant step towards retaining the Bledisloe Cup when they kicked off their Championship campaign with a 27-19 victory over the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night.
The All Blacks made life more difficult for themselves than it needed to be with a rusty display, but the result never really looked in doubt. Although the home-side was the first to post points the All Blacks then scored the next 18, scoring two superbly executed set-piece moves from scrums.
The Wallabies looked like they were playing catch-up football from early-on, and made some atrocious decisions in their own 22, but a lack of accuracy from the All Blacks allowed the Aussies to keep in touch, and were five minutes remaining there was just 5 points in it.
A penalty on the buzzer gave the All Blacks the opportunity to deny Australia even a bonus-point, an opportunity which Dan Carter duly accepted, but the World Champions will leave knowing they have plenty to work on in the coming weeks. For the Australians, Robbie Deans may well feel his side dodged a bullet. It could easily have been a much heavier defeat, given some of the inexplicable decisions and errors they made, but an 8-point loss to the All Blacks will at least give them a glimmer of hope moving forward.