Rugby World Cup 2019 bronze match: Wales 17-40 New Zealand

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales in Tokyo, Japan
2019 Rugby World Cup bronze final
Wales (10) 17
Tries: Amos, Adams Cons: Patchell, Biggar Pen: Patchell
New Zealand (28) 40
Tries: Moody, B Barrett, Smith 2, Crotty, Mo'unga Cons: Mo'unga 5

Warren Gatland's 12-year reign in charge of Wales ended with a 40-17 defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup bronze match in Tokyo.

Steve Hansen ensured he left the All Blacks on a winning note as his side clinched third place in Japan with a six-try display.

Wing Ben Smith scored two tries and Joe Moody, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty and Richie Mo'unga also crossed.

Hallam Amos and Josh Adams scored tries for Wales.

New Zealand demonstrated a more ruthless edge, with Wales not capitalising on territory and possession superiority.

Defence coach Shaun Edwards will also be unhappy at Wales missing more than 30 tackles.

Wales' defeat ensured a second fourth-place World Cup overall finish to emulate their position in 2011, with their third place in 1987 remaining the finest effort.

Their losing streak against the All Blacks remains at 66 years, with New Zealand celebrating a 31st successive win in this fixture.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen and Wales boss Warren Gatland were both overseeing their last games in charge
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen and Wales boss Warren Gatland were both overseeing their last games in charge

Wales and New Zealand would both have preferred to have been involved in the final but those dreams were dashed after semi-final defeats against South Africa and England.

So it was more sentiment than silverware at stake in Tokyo.

Gatland bowed out after 12 years in charge, a period in which Wales have won four Six Nations titles - including three Grand Slams - and reached two World Cup semi-finals.

Hansen stepped up from his assistant role to take over from Graham Henry after the 2011 World Cup success and guided the All Blacks to retain their title four years later.

Injuries bite

Following the five-day turnaround, Wales only had 26 fit players to pick from and made nine changes from the South Africa defeat.

Some were enforced through injuries, with George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Aaron Wainwright, Tomas Francis joining Liam Williams, Josh Navidi and Cory Hill on the sidelines.

Gareth Anscombe, Taulupe Faletau and Ellis Jenkins had already been ruled out before the tournament started.

Full-back Hallam Amos' try was Wales' highlight of a lop-sided first half against New Zealand
Full-back Hallam Amos' try was Wales' highlight of a lop-sided first half against New Zealand

Replacement Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane was handed the 14 shirt, while half-backs Rhys Patchell and Tomos Williams started.

New Zealand made seven personnel alterations and were led by number eight Kieran Read who was making his 127th and last international appearance.

They could still name an experienced and star-studded backline that included Sonny Bill Williams, Crotty, Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith.

Wales did not follow England's lead with any quirky reaction to the New Zealand haka, respecting it from the comfort of their own 10-metre line.

All Blacks on front foot

A frantic opening included a huge hit from Shannon Frizell on Ross Moriarty, a searing Adams break and a penalty turnover from Sam Cane.

Mo'unga hit the posts with a penalty but inspired the opening score with a half-break before releasing Read, who found Brodie Retallick to send prop Moody over for the opening score. Mo'unga converted.

Scrum-half Aaron Smith turned creator as his scissors move with Beauden Barrett allowed the full-back to coast through the Welsh defence under the posts.

New Zealand scrum-half Richie Mo'unga scores despite Wales fly-half Dan Biggar's tackle
Richie Mo'unga scored New Zealand's sixth try and the scrum-half kicked five conversions

Wales almost responded immediately as prop Dillon Lewis was held up over the New Zealand line.

But it was not long until full-back Amos crossed following a patient build-up and a raking Patchell pass.

Patchell also converted before adding a penalty to reduce the deficit to 14-10 as Wales threatened to bounce back.

New Zealand retaliated and showed Wales how to be clinical with two tries for wing Smith just before half-time.

First a strong counter-ruck allowed Smith to power through some weak tackling.

Scrum-half Aaron Smith then released namesake Ben down the right-hand touchline to give New Zealand a 28-10 interval lead.

Wing Josh Adams' score against New Zealand brought his 2019 World Cup tally to seven, beating Shane Williams' single tournament Wales record
Wing Josh Adams' score against New Zealand brought his 2019 World Cup tally to seven, beating Shane Williams' single tournament Wales record

Four attacks, four tries, ruthless stuff from the All Blacks as Wales missed 21 tackles in the first half, defensive lapses proving a symptom of their World Cup campaign.

New Zealand continued the onslaught immediately after the break with Sonny Bill Williams releasing centre partner Crotty for the fifth try.

Smith was denied a hat-trick because of a forward pass before Wales again responded with galloping runs from back-rowers Justin Tipuric and Aaron Shingler.

A raft of replacements saw Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones leave the field for probably his last World Cup appearance, while Sonny Bill Williams and Crotty finished their New Zealand careers.

Wales took advantage with top try scorer Adams burrowing over for his seventh score of the tournament, breaking the previous Welsh best of six at a single World Cup set by Shane Williams in 2007.

Mo'unga crossed for New Zealand's sixth try to complete the scoring and cement a comfortable All Blacks win.

Man of the match - Brodie Retallick

New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick set up their opening try as part of an all-round performance
New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick missed the start of the tournament through injury but was back to his rampaging best against Wales. Just edges out two-try wing Ben Smith.

Match stats

  • New Zealand have won their last 31 matches against Wales, the longest winning run any side has ever held over a tier one nation in Test history, only Argentina (39 v Uruguay & 36 v Chile) have enjoyed longer winning runs against any nation.
  • Josh Adams scored his seventh try of this year's Rugby World Cup, the most by a Wales player at a single tournament, surpassing Shane Williams' tally of six in 2007; Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea jointly hold the overall record with eight.
  • Adams' seven tries are two more than any other player so far; he would be the first Wales player to finish as top try scorer at a Rugby World Cup. South Africa wing Makazole Mapimpi is the next closest on five.
  • The 57 points scored in this match is the most in a World Cup third place play-off, surpassing the 53 points scored in 2003 (New Zealand 40-13 France).
  • New Zealand and Wales made 17 offloads each in this match, their combined total of 34 offloads was the most in a match at this year's World Cup.
  • Ben Smith crossed for two tries in this game but was denied a hat-trick with a disallowed try, meaning this year's World Cup is the first edition of the tournament without an All Blacks hat-trick.
  • New Zealand have finished this year's Rugby World Cup with a 100% scrum success rate, winning 39/39 scrums on their own feed.
  • Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones won his 143rd Test cap (including the British and Irish Lions), moving past Sergio Parisse to become the outright second most capped player in Test history behind Richie McCaw (148).

What they said

Wales coach Warren Gatland: "It's a bit disappointing. Just before half-time if it was 21-10 it wouldn't have been too bad - for them to score before half-time was disappointing.

"For three or four players it was a game too far, they were a bit tired. We played a lot better with some fresh legs in the second half against a very good attacking All Blacks team.

"I'm very proud of them, they scored a couple of good tries and could have scored a few more.

"To finish fourth in this World Cup, and with a five-day turnaround, I am really proud of the guys and the way they performed in this tournament.

"We will reflect and be honest. The better team won - we have just got to take defeat on the chin."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen: "It was important we came back and honoured the jersey and the fans and get over the disappointment of last week. It was a tough old game for both sides so I just want to congratulate Wales too.

"All tournament we have had good defence and we have played pretty good footy all the way through, but you have one bad day and you get knocked out. That is what knockout footy is all about."

Wales: Amos; Lane, J Davies, Watkin, Adams; Patchell, T Williams; N Smith, Owens, D Lewis, Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Tipuric, J Davies, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, Carre, W Jones, Ball, Shingler, G Davies, Biggar, Parkes.

New Zealand: B Barrett; B Smith, Crotty, SB Williams, Ioane; Mo'unga; A Smith; Moody, Coles, Laulala, Retallick, S Barrett, Frizell, Cane, Read (capt).

Replacements: Coltman, Moli, Ta'avao, Tuipulotu, Todd, Webber, Lienert-Brown, J Barrett.

Referee: Wayne Barnes; Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Pascal Gaüzère (France); TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa).


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