Tests, especially those between heavyweights like New Zealand and Australia, are often decided by pivotal moments. Lewis blew most of his at Hong Kong Stadium.
Neither camp was prepared to say it, but the All Blacks’ 19-14 win was as much to do with Lewis as it was a vastly improved second half performance by the men in black.
Their 10 unanswered points came from two unconverted tries and while there was nothing wrong with wing Sitiveni Sivivatu’s touchdown, his pass to flanker Ritchie McCaw for the match-winning try was forward.
It was one of several that Lewis missed along with far too many knock-ons. He also hammered the Wallabies at the breakdown, sometimes unfairly.
No All Blacks would have been too fussed though, after all, they’ve lost tests as well because of poor refereeing — last year’s World Cup quarter final comes to mind.
Such issues are a part of sport and it’s often a reflection a team’s character that they are able to rise above those types of adversities.
Daniel Carter touched on that when he praised the character his teammates showed in winning ugly to finish the Bledisloe Cup series 3-1. "It’s good," he said of the character. "It goes a long way, especially with the tough tour ahead, to have that character to come out in those situations."
Carter, like his coaches, said there was now a foundation to build on and areas to work on.
"We’ve got a long way to improve. We’re a much more skilful and better side than that so hopefully as the tour goes on we can get better each week."
They weren’t helped on Saturday by a slippery ball — it was very humid and rained just before kickoff — and a surface that cut up too much.
But they were also rusty in their first test since they retained the Bledisloe Cup in Brisbane on September 13.
Carter, in particular because he’s had just practice soft game since then, will be the better for Saturday night while the victory will make the flight to London, and on to Edinburgh, easier.
"It is good to come out with a win. We didn’t play as well as we could but to win the game is great and puts us in good stead for a very difficult tour."
Carter slipped back into the pilot’s seat early in the second half after Stephen Donald had struggled to make an impression in his first test at pivot.
He was battling behind a pack that was doing the same but a half time rev-up saw the All Blacks forward lift their work rate and provide a bit of front-foot ball.
Australia had led at the break after two tries to wing Drew Mitchell while Carter and Lewis kept the All Blacks in the game with three penalties.
Those kicks, plus Sivivatu’s forward pass, will be talking points in Australia today but both sides avoided commentating on Lewis.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry praised his side’s discipline which was even more important now the reduced the experimental law variations had reverted free kicks from the Tri-Nations to penalties.
And the Wallabies weren’t looking for excuses. Almost as one coach Robbie Deans, skipper Stirling Mortlock and openside flanker George Smith said they had to be more disciplined.
"I’ve no idea, it doesn’t concern me" Deans said when asked if he knew what the lopsided penalty count was against this side.
"It’s done and dusted. We will look at the things that we can control, and that’s not one of them."
Deans was confident the Wallabies could adapt as they head to Europe for tests against Italy, Wales and France.
"We’ll adapt and so long as we have consistency we will be fine."