New Zealand outclass Wales
November 24, 2012
Luke Romano touches down to score for the All Blacks
© PA Photos
Match Analysis by ESPNscrum
World champions New Zealand destroyed Wales with a Millennium Stadium masterclass tonight - but they also graphically displayed the ugly side of rugby.
The All Blacks stretched their unbeaten record to 20 Tests against all opponents and inflicted a 25th successive defeat on Wales, stretching back 59 years. Tries by flanker Liam Messam, prop Tony Woodcock and lock Luke Romano, plus 18 points from an injured Dan Carter's deputy Aaron Cruden confirmed Wales' worst losing run since current All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen was in charge 10 years ago.
Wales claimed consolation tries by substitute Scott Williams and wing Alex Cuthbert, yet they lost three players injured inside the opening 20 minutes, including lock Bradley Davies, who was floored by a sickening act of foul play. All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore punched Davies from behind, and although he escaped censure from erratic match referee Craig Joubert, citing commissioner Mike Rafter is likely to take a different view.
Prop Aaron Jarvis (knee) and centre Jamie Roberts (hip) also made early exits, which contributed towards Wales being unable to remotely establish any momentum in a one-sided contest. It was Wales' heaviest home defeat since the All Blacks crushed them 41-3 seven years ago, and the worst in Cardiff of head coach Warren Gatland's 55-Test reign.
Gatland, back in charge for two games in between preparing for next summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, could only look on as New Zealand at times showed devastating moments of class. Some of their inter-play between backs and forwards left a crowd of just over 72,000 spellbound, yet Wales were also far better than in their previous autumn games against Argentina and Samoa that both resulted in defeats.
But the harsh fact is that Wales are staring at an autumn whitewash unless they can end a run of seven successive losses against Australia next Saturday. New Zealand, meanwhile, will conclude their European tour against England at Twickenham, going into battle as red-hot favourites to complete the calendar year unbeaten.
New Zealand, despite Carter's absence, were overwhelming favourites, but they did themselves little favours during a dramatic opening two minutes. Hore got off scott-free despite wiping out Davies from behind, an incident that forced the Cardiff Blues forward off. But it did not end there. Jarvis jarred his knee when play moved upfield, and he was then carried off, meaning an early appearance for Scott Andrews, while Aaron Shingler took over from Davies.
Cruden kicked New Zealand into a 10th-minute lead, yet Wales had no intention of playing second fiddle, and given their immediate position of adversity, it fired up their supporters to raise the decibel level.
There was, though, no sign of Wales' injury casualty count receding any time soon, with Roberts going off clutching an ice pack to his hip and Williams taking over.
Cruden kicked two further penalties, and there was worse to come for Wales when the dangerous Julian Savea caused chaos after he ran from deep, setting up quick possession and a move that ended with Messam crossing. Cruden converted, and Wales were as good as finished, 16-0 down after 26 minutes despite producing some promising rugby in flashes.
New Zealand were already threatening to discover cruise control, and when Woodcock ploughed over for a try that was a carbon copy move of his World Cup final try against France last year, Wales had no way back.Cruden converted, and when he kicked a penalty just two minutes into the second period, Wales trailed 26-0 and were well on their way to a humiliating defeat.
They could not get out of their own half, and with New Zealand's confidence exactly what should be expected from a team unbeaten in 15 months, they added another superb score, this time from Romano. Cruden again added the extras, which was the prelude to yet another Wales injury as flanker Ryan Jones went off, being replaced by Justin Tipuric, with the home side desperately seeking a way into the contest.
Williams scored a consolation try following superb work by the Wales forwards, and the second-half display was a far more efficient effort, with their cause helped when All Blacks wing Cory Jane was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Wales at least made the second 40 minutes a contest, and Cuthbert's late touchdown made the second-half scoreline 10-10 on a night when the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions were left searching for crumbs of comfort.
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