• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Wales 10 New Zealand 33: Fifty shades

Wales have had a bad half-century against New Zealand.

New Zealand's Julian Savea delivers a powerful hand-off to Wales' Alex Cuthbert                Photograph: Getty
New Zealand's Julian Savea delivers a powerful hand-off to Wales' Alex Cuthbert Photograph: Getty

Their current losing run against the All Blacks began in 1963 and its extension to 25 matches was never in doubt in a contest more one-sided than the final score indicates.

Wales played with spirit, and retained enough to score the two final quarter tries which ensured a scoreline very close to the average (35-11) for these matches over that fruitless half-century.

But spirit is not enough against opposition of this quality. It must also be allied to intelligence, precision and imagination. Wales lacked all three. It was bad enough that they three times chose not to take the points when awarded kickable first-half penalties, still worse that Rhys Priestland twice drove his touchkicks beyond the corner flag.

That New Zealand took immediate advantage of the first gaffe to take play into Welsh territory, win a penalty and then take the points with Aaron Cruden's ninth minute kick epitomised the difference between the two teams.

Cruden landed two more penalties before the All Blacks produced a try of which few other teams would have been capable. Wing Julian Savea, close to his own 22-metre line, tapped a high Welsh kick back to full-back Israel Dagg who spun through a series of tackles before a return pass to Savea, who was surging down the left.

When he was caught 10 metres short, New Zealand won and recycled rapidly, sending a series of crisp passes the width of the field for flanker Liam Messam to cross on the far right. Cruden, a winner in all 19 of his Test appearances, landed the kick and at 16-0 the only remaining doubt was the extent of victory.

They claimed two more tries, prop Tony Woodcock charging on to tapped line-out ball close to the Welsh line and lock Luke Romano charging over on the left, before effectively declaring their innings closed at 33-0 after 50 minutes.

There was at least a touch of ingenuity to Wales's two tries. The first came from centre Scott Williams, joining a close-range line-out drive which eventually incorporated 14 Welshmen. The second was scored by wing Luke Cuthbert, enabled by quick hands from Liam Williams, the late wing call-up who was Wales's main saving grace. Wales were not helped by a series of injuries. They lost two players, prop Aaron Jarvis and lock Bradley Davies – in receipt of a punch by All Black hooker Andrew Hore that should certainly interest the citing commissioner – in the first minute and five in all. But they did not help themselves. James Hook, who might have injected creativity into their attacks, had to wait 68 minutes before replacing the hapless Priestland.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen reflected on a strong performance which extended his team's unbeaten record to 20 Tests against all opponents.

"We put them under a lot of pressure, but then of course got Cory Jones in the sin-bin (for a deliberate knock-on) and we lost our control and shape for some time, which allowed them to come running back at us. But we won't get ahead of ourselves. if we don't prepare in genuine fashion England will give us a thumping next week."

Hansen had little to say about the Hore incident: "I saw him hooking Bradley Davies out of the way. How he did it we'll have to look at on the video."

Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams; R Priestland, M Phillips; P James, M Rees, A Jarvis; B Davies, L Charteris; R Jones, T Faletau, S Warburton (captain).

Replacements: S Andrews for Jarvis 1, A Shingler for B Davies 1, S Williams for Roberts 18, J Tipuric for Jones 49, G Jenkins for James 54, T Knoyle for Phillips 54, K Owens for Rees 64, J Hook for Priestland 68.

New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; A Cruden, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks; L Romano, S Whitelock; L Messam, K Read, R McCaw (captain).

Replacements: W Crockett for Woodcock 50, B Retallick for Woodcock 50, P Weepu for Smith 50, D Coles for Hore 54, C Faumuina for Franks 60, B Barrett for Cruden 68, V Vito for Messam 70, B Smith for Savea 75.

Yellow card: Jane (60-70).

Referee: C Joubert (S Africa).

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

127445