Wales head coach Warren Gatland believes his side didn’t match the Chiefs’ intensity after they were beaten 40-7 in Hamilton on Tuesday.
The two-time Super Rugby champions, who were ahead 21-7 at the break, outscored the visitors by six tries to one.
The last time Wales lost to a New Zealand club side was 28 years ago in a game where the visitors’ head coach, Gatland, scored for Waikato. This time he was on the wrong side of the scoreboard, ironically at his old ground.
And Gatland admits that his charges were never close to matching the physicality and intensity of the 2013 Super Rugby champions.
“We were second best by a long way,” Gatland said after the match.
“It probably answered a few question in terms of players who have been knocking on our door in terms of why they wanted an opportunity at Test match level.
“We have spoken about what was good from the first 60 minutes last weekend and talked about going about the last 80.
“There will be a lot of changes for Saturday. There were a lot of fringe players out there against the Chiefs trying to put a hand up and make a statement. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Wales lock Luke Charteris not only hailed the home side’s brilliant display of skill and power throughout the game, but also the level of eagerness that was maintained for the full 80 minutes.
The second-rower, however, agreed with Gatland that they weren’t able to match the skill and physicality at which the Chiefs played.
“We’re bitterly disappointed but you’ve got to give massive credit to the Chiefs,” Charteris added.
“They came with so much passion in that first half, we tried to match it, but unfortunately they won the battle of the breakdown, they won the gainline and they were really clinical.
“We let ourselves down. It’s frustrating because we knew what was coming, we knew what to expect.
“There are no excuses, they just gave us a lesson today and that’s a tough lesson to take. We’ve got to have a look at ourselves because it is not acceptable to lose by that sort of margin.
“They’re a very good team but we’ve let ourselves down.”