All Blacks too good for Wales in Cardiff

Gatland’s men go toe-to-toe but capitulate late on as New zealand turn the screw

Wales 16 New Zealand 34

World champions New Zealand staged a storming second-half display to dash Wales' hopes of claiming a famous victory at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales looked on their way to ending 61 years of hurt against New Zealand when they led 16-15 with only 11 minutes left, but fly-half Beauden Barrett's try double either side of a Kieran Read touchdown gave the All Blacks a remarkable 26th successive victory in the fixture, winning 34-16.

New Zealand claimed four touchdowns in 13 devastating minutes during the final quarter, and Wales were reduced to shellshocked bystanders.


Flanker Jerome Kaino and wing Julian Savea also scored for the visitors, with Wales replying through scrum-half Rhys Webb's try and 11 points from the boot of full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

But they have still not beaten New Zealand since 1953, and they will need victory over South Africa next Saturday if they are to avoid another poor sequence of autumn Test results.

There was wonderful passion and frequently staggering commitment from Wales, but that alone was nowhere near enough to thwart an All Blacks side that delivered rugby from the Gods exactly when they needed to as they underlined their status as red-hot favourites for next year’s World Cup.

The final scoreline was rough on Wales, yet New Zealand once again reminded them of the standards that make Richie McCaw’s men a class apart as their skipper celebrated his 100th Test as captain in fitting fashion.

Wales made a solitary switch from the side narrowly beaten by Australia two weeks ago, with fit-again Jonathan Davies restored to midfield alongside Jamie Roberts, but New Zealand showed 12 changes following their victory over Scotland last Saturday for the final game of their European tour.

Wales shaded the early sparring, gaining two penalties in quick succession that allowed them to enjoy a reasonable territorial position before Halfpenny kicked them in front through a seventh-minute strike following Roberts’ powerful surge - moving past 400 points for Wales in the process.

Barrett missed a straightforward chance to put New Zealand level, but found his range from double the distance, making it 3-3 after 22 minutes of an intense encounter.

James was given an official warning in the company of his captain Sam Warburton, with the Bath forward told by Barnes that a yellow card would be his next option.

Wales responded through Warburton charging to the fringe of New Zealand's 22, before Barnes again found himself in the thick of things by ruling a forward pass from Halfpenny to wing Alex Cuthbert.

Both teams showed plenty of endeavour and intent, yet they were often undermined by poor handling and wayward passing as the clocked ticked down to half-time, before New Zealand launched their most menacing attack.

Wales flanker Dan Lydiate knocked on deep inside his own half, and although North completed a superb tackle on his opposite number Charles Piutau, New Zealand still had momentum in pursuit of an opening try, but centre Sonny Bill Williams then knocked on.

Wales had impressively held their own in the toe to toe battle, yet they fell behind within three minutes of the restart as New Zealand stepped up a gear in ruthless fashion.

Barrett’s sharp break split the Welsh defence, and after New Zealand’s pack went through the phases, possession was quickly moved wide and Savea brushed off fly-half Dan Biggar’s challenge to claim his 30th try in just 33 Tests, with Barrett converting.

The lead lasted just two minutes as Wales hit back brilliantly when Webb — a try-scorer against Australia two weeks ago — linked superbly with number eight Taulupe Faletau and touched down, before Halfpenny’s conversion tied things up again.

New Zealand were rattled, and a skirmish involving several players led to Barnes warning McCaw as skipper after All Blacks hooker Dane Coles got involved at close quarters with Webb.

A second Halfpenny penalty put Wales back in front after 51 minutes, giving the All Blacks more food for thought, before Webb went off nursing what appeared to be an injury, and Mike Phillips won his 90th cap as replacement.

But back came New Zealand, as McCaw ran deep into Welsh territory and set up a gilt-edged scoring opportunity that Barrett capitalised on, kicking majestically to the far touchline — and Kaino touched down unopposed.

Again New Zealand’s lead proved short-lived, as another Halfpenny penalty made it 16-15 to Wales.

Yet just two minutes later New Zealand responded through a Barrett solo score after he gathered his own kick ahead by gathering a kind bounce that foxed Halfpenny.

Slade converted, and New Zealand sealed the deal when Read charged down Phillips’ attempted clearance and Barrett scored again.