Applying the tactic of hitting their opponent at their supposed point of strength, their kicking game, the All Blacks broke the shackles South Africa had applied in recent games to claim a 23-13 win in their Rugby World Cup pool opener in Yokohama on Saturday.
Completing the most difficult squad selection any coach faces before a Rugby World Cup, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's first thought after the 2019 side was named on Wednesday was for the players who had missed out.
All the talk about the winning side gaining momentum heading into the Rugby World Cup came to nothing when the All Blacks and South Africa fought out a 16-16 draw in their Investec Rugby Championship Test in Wellington on Saturday.
Drifting north has long been a part of New Zealand life but in rugby it has been a drift away that has seen Auckland region players bloom in other franchises, including Malakai Fekitoa, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor and Josh Ioane.
Winning the tightest of Investec Super Rugby semifinals 30-26 over a Hurricanes team who refused to lie down, the Crusaders won the right to play and win their third consecutive final against the Jaguares in Christchurch next week.
Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea pulled off another of his specialist turnovers at the death to allow his side to advance to the Investec Super Rugby semifinals after beating the Bulls 35–28 in a thriller at Westpac Stadium.
Valuable game time for key members of the Hurricanes squad ahead of next week's Investec Super Rugby playoffs have resulted in nine changes to the side for Saturday's game with the Blues at Westpac Stadium.