Big rig Brodie Retallick leads forwards' revival
Nine days ago the All Blacks were suddenly vulnerable - their mighty forward pack reduced to ordinary by a Wallabies side that are building but which have never been viewed as world beaters up front.
What a difference a week makes.
The All Blacks forwards confirmed they had the acid put on them during that week, both by their coaches and by themselves, to put things right.
The conditions were perfect at Eden Park on Saturday night and when the black pack turned up with much improved intensity, physicality and enthusiasm the platform was laid on for a rout.
At the centre of it was Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick - at the tender age of 23 already a tight five international veteran and continuing to build his reputation as a test rugby super star within a 2.04 metre, 119 kilogram body.
Pair him with Sam Whitelock and the All Blacks have a formidable, skilled locking duo with a phenomenal work rate but it was not just them with the front row also stepping it up in terms of their industriousness.
Retallick rated Saturday night the best tight five test performance he had been involved in during his 28 internationals to date.
"We've been working on that pushover scrum for a long time and to get the driving maul happening again tonight was something that was pretty pleasing," Retallick said.
"And then to get the good go-forward down the middle of the park - it was a pretty good performance by the tight five tonight."
While the coaches and senior players had put the acid on the tight five during the week - something confirmed post-match by skipper Richie McCaw - Retallick said the humiliation of being shown up by the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe Cup test of the year in Sydney a week earlier had been an even more powerful motivator.
"To get dominated up front as we did last week - there is no way we are going to win a game of rugby if we get dominated like that each week.
"I think we had a point to prove to ourselves and to everyone else that we were up to the job," Retallick said.
Hooker Dane Coles was one who enjoyed being part of that forward renaissance, going to "those dark places" as he called them and then getting out in the open to do what he enjoys best, running with the ball and backing up.
"For me, it's about personal pride. If you are not performing you come off the paddock and you don't really take much pride in your performance, especially last Saturday night when we weren't really where we wanted to be," Coles said.
"This week we just really wanted to be intimidating and be dominant and I think we did that and the game kind of flowed on from that.
"When we get things right during the week, prepare well and go to those dark places we can be a pretty dominant side, so we've just got to make sure we just keep building."