Planet Rugby

All Blacks compound Wales' woes

24th November 2012 19:10

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israel dagg

New Zealand: Pile on the misery for struggling Wales

Wales slumped to a sixth consecutive defeat after going down 33-10 to New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Predictions the All Blacks' attack would incinerate Wales' defence came to fruition in the first half especially. However even though the scoreline may read otherwise, it was a much better effort from the Welsh - the second half especially.

Be that as it may, coach Warren Gatland must have been shifting uncomfortably in his seat as he contemplated another difficult week following the home side's previous November defeats.

The hosts never threatened to end a 59-year drought at the hands of their southern hemisphere rivals, and their hopes were all but dashed by half-time when the clinical All Blacks put the result beyond doubt thanks to a 23-0 lead.

It proved too big a mountain for Wales to climb in the second half, though - bouyed by their parochial crowd in full voice - showed plenty of character and determination to fight back and outscore the world champions two tries to nill. There were no fist-pumps, high fives or backslaps from New Zealand after the final whistle as they knew that were some way from their best after being held 10-10 after the break.

The game couldn't have started any worse for Wales after losing two players two minutes into the contest. First, Bradley Davies was taken out from behind by All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore and the lock was forced off looking extremely light-headed.

Then tighthead prop Aaron Jarvis followed suit after injuring his knee.

To make matters even worse, All Blacks pivot Aaron Cruden was in fine touch with the boot and racked up a 9-0 lead for his team in the opening quarter before Israel Dagg broke from inside his 22 to link up with Julian Savea who raced into Wales' dangerzone. And just moments later, Conrad Smith was putting flank Liam Messam over for the opening try.

Wales came close to scoring after a trademark Jonathan Davies break brought the crowd on their feet, only for prop Paul James to return them to their seats after knocking the ball on. The Welsh didn't do themselves any favours later on as on two occasions Rhys Priestland missed the corner with penalties.

There was to be more pain for the Welsh to endure when Tony Woodcock went over for New Zealand's second try off the back of the same line-out move that saw the prop score in the World Cup final.

The deficit became 26 points just after the break as Cruden added another penalty, before a superb passing movement and a fine finish in the corner from Luke Romano gave New Zealand their third try. Cruden's conversion was his seventh successful kick from seven.

Wales finally got on the scoresheet just before the hour when full-back Leigh Halfpenny did find the corner with a penalty, Wales committed almost their entire team to the line-out drive and inside centre Scott Williams went over.

Wales had more of the game in the final quarter, particularly after Cory Jane was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on, and did cross again through Alex Cuthbert in the closing moments - but long before then the result was no longer in doubt.

Man of the match: Aaron Cruden and Conrad Smith were the pick of the New Zealand backs, but it was difficult to overlook loose forward Richie McCaw - who was his usual industrious self - as our man of the match. He was immense, smashing bodies in defence and proving to be the Kiwis everywhere man.

Moment of the match: Wales' first try only served to spark the hosts into action, and from there on in the Welsh raised their game.

Villain of the match: Andrew Hore's cheap shot from behind will surely interest citing commissioner Mike Rafter.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Tries: S Williams, Cuthbert

For New Zealand:
Tries: Messam, Woodcock, Romano
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Cruden 4
Yellow card: Jane (59th minute)

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott Williams.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ben Smith.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

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