Good weekend for results and fence building

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 11:41 01/10/2012

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Two major highlights for me over the weekend - one sporting, the other not.

The All Blacks were magnificent in thrashing Argentina by a record-winning score and my new fence, being built by myself (true), my neighbour and two mates, was still standing on Sunday morning after a hard day's graft putting most of it up on Saturday.

I've always admired people who can build or fix things. I'm basically nil by mouth at both, but at least I played a genuine part in the fence build, even if I played little part in the clever bits involved in making sure everything was straight and level.

Me and my nail gun had bonded very closely by the end of the day and I was almost reluctant to give it back to the owner.

We were into it again on Sunday morning but come kick-off time in the Test, it was time to down tools and watch a brilliant All Blacks performance.

Dan Carter was my man of the match. He was the difference in making the backline tick and ensuring they fully utilised the good work done up front. He's tough Carter, much tougher physically than a lot of people think and the way he takes on the line and chooses his options is something to behold.

Yes, Aaron Cruden is a good back-up and Beauden Barrett is a rare talent but Carter is still a hemisphere in front as an all-round player. Richie McCaw is our greatest-ever forward and few would argue that Carter is certainly the best first-five ever to don the black jersey.

I had reservations about Julian Savea going into this Test. He opened his Test career with a hiss and a roar, bagging a hat-trick against Ireland, but then had a shocker in the second Test a week later and hadn't really fired a shot since. Against Argentina he proved he belongs at this level. He's big, strong, very fast, knows where the try-line is, has a good all-round skills package and went looking for work. Have we ever had two wingers in one test play better? Cory Jane was just brilliant and why opposition teams persist on pumping high kicks down his and Israel Dagg's throats is a mystery to me.

I didn't think McCaw would produce another performance this season like the one he pulled out of the bag against South Africa in Dunedin a couple of weeks ago but I was wrong. He played another blinder for the the 60 minutes he was on yesterday.

A word of praise, too, for referee Jaco Peyper. The South African had a superb match, playing the advantage law well, was not pedantic and played a big part in helping the game flow.

Congratulations to the Tasman hockey teams at the national tournament in Wellington last week. The women were beaten finalists and the men shared third place with North Harbour.

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Judging by the way the respective coaches and players enjoyed the experience, combining the hockey talents of Marlborough and Nelson is the way of the future. For both teams to play so well with absolutely no preparation, or lead-up games, reflected well on the players and the environment provided by their coaching staff, Denise Lloyd and Craig Brett for the women's team and Tony Haswell and Paul Muncaster for the men's team.

It's a template other codes in Marlborough and Nelson could well look at.

- The Marlborough Express

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