Wales 16-34 New Zealand: All Black hoodoo continues in Cardiff

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer at the Millennium Stadium
Highlights: Wales 16-34 New Zealand
Autumn internationals: Wales v New Zealand
Wales (3) 16
Tries: Webb, Pens; Halfpenny (3) Cons: Halfpenny
New Zealand (3) 34
Tries: Savea, Kaino, Barrett (2), Read; Pens: Barrett; Cons: Barrett, Slade (2)

Wales' 61-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks goes on after a blitz of three late tries snatched what had been a see-saw contest away from them.

A try from Rhys Webb and 11 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny had given Warren Gatland's men a one-point lead with 11 minutes left.

But with characteristic ruthlessness, New Zealand accelerated away.

Two tries from Beauden Barrett and one from Kieran Read meant they ended the match in complete control.

It means Wales have now lost 26 games in a row against the men in black.

New Zealand have lost just two Tests in the last three years
New Zealand have lost just two Tests in the last three years

And, while the performance was an improvement on the dire display a week ago against Fiji, this was a wonderful chance to end that horrible run.

Wales had begun well, winning three penalties at the breakdown in the first five minutes and converting the sole kickable one as the All Blacks coughed up a series of uncharacteristic knock-ons, forward passes and kicks put out on the full.

Barrett missed a simple penalty to compound the sluggish start but he levelled from halfway midway through the half.

And, as the Welsh scrum began to creak, the visitors muscled their way into a fierce contest. The home defence was ferocious, though, holding off a series of drives off a New Zealand scrum 20 metres out.

But within moments of the re-start much of that hard work was undone.

Wales did well to turn over New Zealand ball on their own try-line but Halfpenny then opted to go back into contact rather than kick clear and was stripped of the ball.

The All Blacks went left, Conrad Smith flipped a pass out of the back of his hand as Jamie Roberts thundered into him and Savea wriggled free of Biggar's tackle to score in the corner.

Julian Savea
Julian Savea had never previously scored a try against Wales

Barrett's conversion made it 3-10 but Wales' response was as impressive as it was instant.

Webb darted off a scrum 10m out, fed the on-rushing Faletau and seized the return inside pass to dive across the line.

A tight game had sprung open. New Zealand went again at pace only for their subsequent driving maul to be held up short, Dane Coles lucky not to be sin-binned for grabbing Webb by the throat.

Halfpenny struck a penalty after Sam Whitelock was caught on the wrong side to edge Wales back into the lead at 13-10 and only a Webb knock-on a few metres out denied another mighty red surge.

Rhys Webb
Rhys Webb scored to bring Wales back into the game, moments after Savea's try for New Zealand

It was furious, frantic stuff, both sides hammering deep into opposition territory only to cede momentum and control with handling errors.

Wales threw on Mike Phillips, Luke Charteris and Justin Tipuric, yet that old ruthless streak of New Zealand resurfaced just as history appeared to be beckoning.

Coles escaped down the left and fed Richie McCaw and, although the skipper was held up, Barrett found Smith free on the left wing with a beautifully judged cross-kick and the centre popped the ball back inside for Kaino to run in unopposed.

However, Barrett missed the conversion and Wales would seize back a 16-15 lead through Halfpenny's second penalty, only to themselves be rocked backwards once more.

Barrett chipped over the covering defence on the right and gathered his own kick as the bounce beat Halfpenny before going under the posts.

Slade's conversion made it 16-22 and, seconds later, Read silenced the stunned Millennium Stadium crowd as he charged down Phillips' kick to score in the corner.

Inside three minutes, Wales had seen their lead turn into a 13-point deficit.

And when Barrett gathered Smith's dab back inside from another sweetly angled kick to wriggle clear for his second, the coup de grace was complete.

Wales v New Zealand
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw was captaining New Zealand for the 100th time
Beauden Barrett
Beauden Barrett's two tries were key to New Zealand's late comeback
Kieran Read
Kieran Read went over to give New Zealand a 13-point lead, before Barrett scored again


Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (captain), Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Rhodri Jones, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Liam Williams.

New Zealand: Ben Smith, Charles Piutau, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Wyatt Crockett., Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read.

Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Joe Moody, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty.

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