BIZARRELY, Bill Bixby popped to mind at the Aviva on Saturday.
The American actor played the main character of David Banner in the cult Incredible Hulk series back in the 1970s. Remember his catchphrase? It was: ’Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me if I was angry’.
The All Blacks did a pretty good David Banner impression on the latest leg of their European tour. This time it was the men in green on the receiving end but the carnage was the same - bodies left scattered in their wake.
It was Stephen Ferris’ try that awakened the beast inside the tourists, a score that, alongside Jonathan Sexton’s conversion, handed Ireland a surprise 13-9 lead and provoked tantalising thoughts of a first ever win over the Kiwis.
Such dreams weren’t allowed take root for long.
New Zealand were ahead by double scores within 15 minutes and were 20 points to the good soon after. Even the stadium announcer sounded shaken when calling the scores after the third of the tries.
It wasn’t just the quantity that took the breath away but the quality. None more so than the third touchdown which boasted innumerable offloads including the final pass which set Kieran Red galloping free down Ireland’s lefty flank.
It wasn’t Dan Carter who delivered the killer ball. Nor was it Conrad Smith or Mils Muliaina. No, it was Jerome Kaino, a 6’ 4”, 17 stone loose forward. Who knows, maybe he drops goals in his spare time.
As a script, it was all too familiar to the one produced on this same stretch of Dublin acreage back in 2001 when Ireland had the temerity to engineer a scarcely believable 21-7 lead early in the second-half.
The visitors’ response?
Three tries in 12 blurry minutes and a winning margin of 11 points. Then, as now, the real frustration for the Irish side must be that they had done so much right for so long and to no avail.
The home side tackled brilliantly in the opening quarter - no-one more than Brian O’Driscoll - and starved their opponents of opportunities from broken play after some initially ill-judged loose kicks that could have caused considerable hardship.
Roy Keane may rail against the debatable notion of moral victories - and rightly so - but there was nevertheless much to cheer in Ireland’s display, not least their response to such a flurry of body blows.
Something to hold onto after the contests with South Africa and Samoa. Next up is Argentina, a side that gets under the nose of the Irish like no other in modern times. What odds on the blood being up on both sides for that one?