… that you have a special treat. Chocolate, an unexpected gift, finding a $50 note! It was not one of those treats I experienced yesterday but the treat of my first All Blacks game.
Took the plunge a few weeks ago, jumped online and brought 3 tickets to a game v South Africa – not cheap but that was our holiday treat. (OK so not a treat that was given but a treat to oneself!) Met our oldest son at his flat, grabbed some tea and wandered down to the Westpac Stadium with the masses. Of course a sell out so we were seated with 34,000 others to watch the game. Hopes were high for a great game but with live sport there are no guarantees. Weather, result, spectator behaviour – it is a lottery.
My pre game prediction was the All Blacks by 12 building on last weeks Eden park victory. The weather was misty, drifting rain which came and went for the first half and then cleared. Our seats were partially covered so we were dry albeit cool. We were in Block one which is right below the Northern end big screen. When we were seated for the first time my previous misgivings over our ‘cheap seats’ were gone. We were right behind the uprights so knew that we could see some of the action up close.
Whenever I go to live sport I like to watch the warm up and try to pick who will win based on what I observe. Clearly the All Blacks were in the zone. First the kickers are out there doing their warm ups then the teams go through a warm up and then forwards and backs drills and plays. The ABs showed some more intensity while the Springboks looked a little less enthusiastic. The Springboks also had two team huddles which indicated they needed some top two inch motivation.
Soon it was time for the national anthems. There was some crowd participation and the crowd sang – not with much gusto but there was singing. The empty seats had filled and the scene was set for kick off. The haka was next and we were hoping for Kapa a pongo which did not disappoint. I believe this ritual is one important ingredient to the All Blacks’ success. It was inspiring and spine tingling to this Kiwi. For years I have watched from afar but seeing it live was just the best. This was the All Blacks playing live and I was there with two of my boys – how good does life get?
Pretty soon you had the feeling that it was going to be a black night and it was very enjoyable.You get a feel for our view from this picture of the South African try. I was enjoying the game so much that when the ABs scored I focused on the live action and left the camera alone.
Here is Dan Carter attempting to convert Rene Ranger’s try. That is the ball up in the night sky and the linesmen are watching intently. The crowd erupts as it nearly sailed through. That was the clincher try and with about 15 minutes to go victory was assured.
What I liked most was the way I could see the game unfolding from the end on view. For several of the movements and tries you could see the space opening and enjoy the teams as they marshalled their players to close gaps or create overlaps. You could hear the tackles and see the broader view of the game – the tv view is quite different. We all commented how conditioned we have become to seeing tv replays – when you watch live sport you need to keep your eyes on the action lest you miss some. There are big screen replays at the ground so you get that as well.
I thought the ground announcer was a little flat – after all this was a test match and it was time to gee up the crowd and get people pumped. Apart from that it was a fantastic day out.