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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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OPINION: Heroic Cane stands up in season ending win

Getty Images

Jim Kayes     26 Nov 2017     Getty Images

That was a Richie McCaw-esque performance. Sorry, I know it’s time we moved on and I realise you’d like to be considered in your own right and not constantly compared to McCaw.

But it is, surely, a compliment. He was, after all, a fairly handy player and that was, against Wales in Cardiff, a rather awesome performance by you.

QUICK TAP: SEASON OF 2017 WILL HAVE IMPACT ON ALL BLACKS' FUTURE

Tackle after tackle after tackle you made, as Wales dominated the ball and territory throughout an absorbing test match.

After 30 minutes the All Blacks have made 94 tackles, Wales just 18, yet somehow it was the All Blacks in control of the scoreboard.

The first try, to wing Waisake Naholo, was their first foray into the Wesh 22 and it was like that for most of the match.

The traditional rule in rugby was that the team with the ball and field position won, but that hasn’t been the case for a while now.

It’s not how much ball you have, but how you use it and the All Blacks remain the best in the world at exploiting opportunities.

This was their 11th win in one of their worst seasons since 2009 when they lost to France, three times to South Africa and went down against the Barbarians.

This year they’ve had two defeats and a draw. What other country would love to have that sort of “poor” season? All of them.

This was an All Blacks side missing 11 players - not all of them first choice but some, like Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Brodie Retallick, Kieran Read and Ben Smith, are world class. Joe Moody, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Israel Dagg, are not far off it.



Yes Wales were missing players too, but that just means absent players can’t be used as an excuse.

As good as Cane was - and he was truly magnificent - others shone too with Sonny Bill Williams a beast on defence and in the tackle - and he produced another of what may soon be his trademark chip kicks.

Naholo was again outstanding on the wing and Rieko Ioane wasn’t far behind and will surely be named World Rugby’s breakthrough player and perhaps nabbed the best in the world title too.

He also produced the verbal chip of the match too when, late in the game after a wee scuffle, he suggested the angry Wales players take a look at the scoreboard.

It showed yet another defeat to the All Blacks who have not lost to Wales since 1953 and didn’t really look like losing this Test.

That’s not to suggest Wales didn’t play well. They did and it was a gripping encounter but the All Blacks seemed to have the match in hand even if they didn’t have the ball there.

Defence wins games and the All Blacks were simply sensational without the ball, knocking the Welsh back and restricting them to just two tries.

When it was their turn the All Blacks seldom wasted their chances, both wings scoring twice and Anton Lienert-Brown nabbing a fifth.

It was a good bookend to a season that opened with a lot of promise with the first Test win against the British and Irish Lions way back in June.

There have been those two defeats and a draw since then in a patchy season that has seldom seen the All Blacks hit top gear.

Other countries are improving - most notably Scotland - and that is good for the game internationally. But those who like to see weakness in the All Blacks, who think they have slipped and are vulnerable, should heed Ioane’s advice.

Played 14, won 11, lost two and drawn one. The scoreboard still favours the All Blacks.