But it didn't turn out that way and in fact those partisan Kiwis who had scoffed at the idea of an Irish contest, never mind a win, afterwards conceded. "We were bloody lucky mate. Too right we were."
There was an air of disappointment in the Irish dressing room afterwards. They had said beforehand they were up for this one.
So it was understandable that at the post match press conference Blicks (that's the way they pronounce it here) coach John Mitchell sought refuge in "We'll look at the video and assess and take it from there," type comments when asked about his side's performance.
He agreed as did his captain Reuben Thorne that Ireland had " put a lot of pressure on the breakdown and were very aggressive in that area which neant that they were able to slow down our re-cycle ball."
They also agreed that they weren't surprised by the intensity of the Irish challenge but they might have expected it to have run it's course in the final quarter. But it didn't.
Both All Black tries came in the final five minutes of each half and up to both points Ireland were giving as good as they got. And more often than not, even better.
Mitchell, when asked about what impressed him about the Irish play said, " the chips in behind, reading our line-out and the work of your seven, Keith Gleeson. We were inaccurate at the ruck clean-outs because of your more aggressive play in that area."
But you knew that they knew they'd been let off the hook. And you also knew that they - the Blicks - mightn't be so lucky next time.
Roll on Auckland. There's a spring in the Irish step tonight.