GARETH DUNCAN watched the All Blacks pick up a convincing 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff.
The All Blacks reigned supreme at the Millennium Stadium as they scored three tries and restricted Wales to only two scores – both coming in the second half. Flank Liam Messam, prop Tony Woodcock and lock Luke Romano all crossed the chalk for the victors.
Aaron Cruden, who was a late replacement for the injured Dan Carter (Achilles) in the starting line-up, also impressed at flyhalf and kicked all seven of his goal attempts. This included three conversions and four penalties.
New Zealand’s overall interplay, even between forwards and backs, and attacking confidence was the major difference between the two teams. Their defence also proved to be a strong guard, especially in the final quarter.
Wales had three kickable penalties during opening moments, but their decision to search for the try proved to be unrewarding.
Wales also suffered two setbacks during the second minute of the match as tighthead prop Aaron Jarvis and lock Bradley Davies were substituted early. Jarvis suffered an unfortunate knee injury after being cleaned out by flank Richie McCaw and outside centre Conrad Smith, while Davies received a punch from hooker Andrew Hore.
The All Blacks absorbed the hosts’ early ascendancy and the momentum eventually switched hands.
Cruden built on this, kicking three penalties before Messam finished off a smart counter-attack. Fullback Israel Dagg committed several defenders before offloading to the rushing wing Julian Savea. He kept the ball alive, with assistance from Cruden in the Welsh red zone. The ball was rushed to the other side of the field, where Messam found space out wide.
Woodcock powered over thereafter following a smart lineout move. The All Blacks led 23-0 at half-time.
A try from lock Luke Romano and five points (a conversion and penalty) via Cruden’s boot was enough to seal the win.
Wales scored a try via a strong rolling maul, which surprisingly saw replacement centre Scott Williams dotting down. All Blacks wing Cory Jane was yellow carded on the hour mark, but the Dragons failed to capitalised on their one-man advantage.
However, the Welsh did grab their second consolation try in the 77th minute via wing Alex Cuthbert.