Tokyo - "It was bloody humiliating."

The Irishman and his friends in front of me in the queue to the bus outside Tokyo Stadium were battered and bruised. A loss to the All Blacks was always a real possibility. But a drubbing of 46-14 was not on the cards.

With at least over half of the 50 000 capacity stadium (including a few hundred South Africans) rooting for them, the Irishmen did not lack support in their final eight match against the reigning champions.

The Haka was drowned out with loud Irish singing and for a moment I believed it was possible for the All Blacks to be knocked out.

It was captain Rory Best's last Test march and a stunning upset in Tokyo was written in the stars. But it was never really realistic.

The Irish were played off their feet by hurricane All Blacks, led by the indomitable Kieran Read and his star-studded team featuring an Oscar-winning performance by fullback Beauden Barrett.

The slippery fullback was at his irritatingly best. I'm no fan of Barrett's and often thought he was lucky to make to All Black starting line-up, but he shut me up with a faultless performance at the back.

Scrumhalf Aaron Smith was superb, benefitting from the stealthy effort of the All Black pack, being rewarded with two terrific tries. Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga's impressive cross-field kicks saw Matt Todd scoring one of the tries of the tournament.

The All Blacks were at their clinical best. The match should be used as a masterclass in off-loading and defence, as the defending champions just never seemed to make mistakes.

It felt as if the New Zealanders had at least two extra players on the field at all times.

The Irish were flat-footed and had no answers to the All Blacks' magic. After opting not to kick for goal thrice in the first half, the Irish had to score tries to win the match. Those tries only arrived late in the second half when the die was cast.

The All Blacks now face England, who thumped Australia out of the tournament.

The Springboks still have an easier path to the final: having to beat Japan on Sunday and then the winner of Wales versus France (probably Wales).

But for us, or anyone, to win the World Cup, we will have to outplay the mighty All Blacks, who are steadily on their way to defending the crown.

* Basson is editor-in-chief of News24. He is attending the Rugby World Cup as a guest of MTN.