The All Blacks filed off the team bus in Hamilton late yesterday looking battered and bruised but determined to complete an Irish sweep at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.
And while the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief as Dan Carter booted the winning drop goal to seal the match in the dying minutes, coach Steve Hansen was yesterday talking up the tenacity his boys displayed in his home town of Christchurch.
"I was pleased with the character we showed, our composure and our commitment – but let's face it, the Irish played really well," Hansen told the Waikato Times.
That was little consolation for the Irish faithful who were left crying in their Guinness at Biddy Mulligan's Irish Pub on Saturday.
"Honestly, I feel ripped off," said acting bar manager Cain Harrison. "The Irish here were crippled. I could barely talk – I was quite disgusted, crestfallen – but I'll have to get over it, to be sure," he said of the 22-19 defeat at the hands and boots of the All Blacks.
"But you wait till Saturday," he said. "The Irish have shown they can do it, and the boys will get back up off the canvas and give it everything they've got – that's what being Irish is about – fighting to the death."
And Hansen is more than aware that the Irish are capable of bringing the same commitment and passion to Saturday night's final encounter in Hamilton.
"We have plenty to work on this week, including how we let them get such quick ball and how we battled all night to get our own," he said.
Waikato forward Liam Messam will join the All Blacks this week as the All Black injury list grows. Ali Williams faces surgery on his troublesome right knee, ruling him out of the upcoming Four Nations rugby championship, while Kieran Read will be a "day by day proposition" after taking a knock to the head during Saturday's game.
Meanwhile, emergency services in Hamilton will be ramped up this weekend after over-zealous fans caused problems in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Streakers, alcohol-fuelled incidents and general disorder kept Christchurch police busy with five people arrested and 16 others evicted from the rugby.
Waikato police district operations manager Inspector John Kelly was confident he would have enough staff at the ground and on the road.
"We are experienced in policing matches at Waikato Stadium and have a good working relationship with our stadium partners the rugby union, the council and security," he said.
"Waikato crowds are traditionally well behaved and there to enjoy the event. We just hope they come early to avoid congestion, limit the amount of alcohol consumed and show respect for other people and their property."
The Irish won't arrive in Hamilton until Thursday after opting for a trip to Queenstown rather than following the All Blacks.