Time to rate the All Blacks season which I'll give a "B", maybe a "B minus", and happily explain why I did so.
First up there was the blip vs Australia in Wellington. Totally unforeseen, we were ambushed by a team that no-one (barring Dave Rennie perhaps) expected to be half as competitive as they were and escaped with a draw that but for the width of a post should've been a loss. "C minus".
One week later we go to fortress Eden Park to re-right the ship and that's exactly what happened. The All Blacks won comfortably, Australia completely forgot how to tackle and Caleb Clarke was awesome. "B plus".
A fortnight on we blitzed them in Sydney with by far the best performance of the season and a record score (43-5) to boot. The ABs were back, the Bledisloe won and done. The only "A" of the campaign.
A week later we completely changed the side, had a man sent off, so did they,
14 on 14 and another hiccup only this time we lost. Seven days after our best effort of the year we inexplicably lose to an average Australian outfit in Brisbane. We were incompetent, they deserved the win. Another "C minus".
The next week back to Sydney to play Argentina at Parramatta's new stadium
And, shock horror, we lost again! Whaaaaat? For the first time ever we lost to Los
Pumas and, let's be honest, the scoreline flattered us. And the fallout was bitter.
Everyone wore it, coach Foster more than most, captain Cane ruffled a few feathers with his comments about us fans, altogether a very unhappy rugby public and we deserved a "D" - aka a fail.
And then to Newcastle where Argentina changed their run-on side to include just
five of the team that started against us a fortnight earlier and heavily paid the price.
The All Blacks totally dominant if taking a while to finally breach the Pumas always staunch defence, a 38-0 win as comprehensive as the score suggests. Another "B plus".
So overall then, three great performances and three tight games we couldn't close. In
All Black terms, all three are seen as defeats which is why I can only award a "B" for the season.
Maybe that's too generous, maybe because of the standards we judge ourselves upon a "B minus" would be more appropriate. Not bad but could do better.
However, I will add that if you can't be happy with Saturday night's effort then maybe, just maybe, you might be one of those fans Sam Cane did reference.