All Blacks clinch Grand Slam
November 27, 2010
The All Blacks celebrate completing their Grand Slam tour of the UK & Ireland
© Getty Images
New Zealand produced a clinical display to beat Wales 37-25 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday to wrap-up their fourth Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland.
Two tries from winger Hosea Gear and further scores from fullback Mils Muliaina, Gear's wing partner Isaia Toeava and replacement prop John Afoa ensured the 2010 All Blacks became only the fourth New Zealand side to tour the Home Nations unbeaten, joining their counterparts from 1978, 2005 and 2008. Fly-half Dan Carter also re-wrote the record books with a 12-point haul that saw him become the all-time leading scorer in Test rugby - eclipsing the mark of England's Jonny Wilkinson.
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones notched six penalties and Lee Byrne a late try as the hosts threatened to end a 57-year drought at the hands of their southern hemisphere rivals but their hopes were dashed time and time again by a clinical All Blacks side that were some way from their best.
Gear had an eventful opening few minutes with the in-form speedster picking up an injury while pressuring Jones under a high kick and his pain was compounded when the Wales No.10 slotted the opening points of the game. But the score only served to spark the tourists into action and their first real attack was rewarded with the opening try.
Centre Sonny Bill Williams offered an early example of his off-loading skills to put Toeava away and the winger brushed aside four tacklers before finding Gear who scored in the corner. Carter's anointment as the sport's all-time leading scorer was delayed when he missed the conversion but the record was his a few minutes later when he sent a long range penalty sailing through the posts.
Carter's next attempt was also wide of the mark and Wales capitalised on that rare miss with some creative endeavour of their own that was brought to a sudden end when lock Bradley Davies felt the full force of a tackle by Man of the Match Jerome Kaino.
The early broken nature of the game played into the All Blacks' hands and a dart from Carter on halfway created the angle for Muliaina who punished the hosts' defensive shortcomings by scything through and coasting to the line for his side's second try. Carter's off-day with the boot continued with a missed conversion but Jones was also wayward when he looked to reduce the arrears with a kickable penalty a few minutes later.
Good pressure from Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips then forced a rare error from Carter in his own 22 and they looked to turn the screw from the resulting scrum. Quick ball stretched the All Blacks' defence and James Hook surged for the line only to be denied by a last ditch tackle from Muliaina, who dislodged the ball in the process. But they did reap some reward for a promising spell when Jones doubled his side's tally after an offside penalty against the visitors.
Another penalty against lock Brad Thorn - this time for holding Davies back off the ball - gifted Wales an attacking lineout in the All Blacks' half but again they failed to secure the ball. They nevertheless finished the half on a high with pressure at the scrum drawing the latest penalty that Jones kicked to bring the hosts to within four points. Carter had a chance to have the final say of the opening period but his long range penalty fell short leaving him with a worrying one from five record.
Wales looked to raise their game following the restart and a turnover inside the All Blacks' 22 soon had the crowd on their feet, but the hosts lacked the finesse and composure to craft an opening. They persevered and a strong run from Jones into the heart of the All Blacks' defence drew a penalty from replacement Daniel Braid, who was sent to the sin-bin as Wales reduced the arrears to just one point.
But the All Blacks showed their class by delivering a swift riposte. Byrne was guilty of missing touch with a penalty and his error was punished in emphatic style. The ball was moved downfield before it was worked wide to Gear who weathered the combined efforts of Wales winger George North and Phillips to touch down in the corner for his second try. Faced with his most difficult kick of the game, Carter found his form to extend his side's lead with the conversion.
Wales continued to press with the aim of making the most of their numerical advantage but the All Blacks drew their sting before extending their lead through Carter, whose second penalty preceded Braid's return to the fray. Wales stayed in touch with Jones nailing his fifth penalty just past the hour mark.
A succession of ugly scrums then blighted the game as a spectacle but Wales had little complaint about the result - Jones' sixth penalty that brought them within a try of the All Blacks. But in an all-too-familiar pattern the All Blacks struck back to seal the game. Hook was caught inside his own 22 by a tap tackle from Muliaina and Kaino pounced on the loose ball, which was then taken on by Thorn and replacement lock Anthony Boric, who fed Toeava for a simple try in the corner. Carter's resurgence continued with another excellent conversion.
And it would get worse for Wales with Afoa grabbing the All Blacks' fifth try as hosts' challenge crumbled. A strong run from scrum-half Jimmy Cowan had Wales scrambling and his inside ball found Muliaina, whose pass allowed the prop to speed home from 30 metres for a memorable score, again converted by Carter.
A cheap shot from Andy Powell on Richie McCaw in the closing moments of the game escaped the officials, although it is unlikely to be missed by the citing officer, but the hosts did at least finish on a high note with a great scrum and quick ball laying the foundation for a try by Byrne that was converted by Jones. It was too little too late.
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