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New Zealand Overpower Wales

New Zealand Overpower Wales

Despite a spirited performance, Wales lost 43-17 to New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium.

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The All Blacks scored four tries, three of them in the last five minutes to give the visitors a flattering 26 point margin of victory.

In a tight first half Wales more than matched New Zealand in attacking flair and defensive bite, and it was the home side that drew first blood, an eighth minute penalty goal from Llanelli outside half Stephen Jones.

However the scores were levelled moments later when Kiwi No. 10 Andrew Mehrtens slotted over his first penalty goal of the afternoon.

The Millennium Stadium erupted with noise after 13 minutes, loose ball on the halfway line was kicked upfield by Jones, setting up a race to the line between Jamie Robinson and Tana Umaga.

And the Cardiff player showed a clean pair of heels to the New Zealand centre to triumphantly score in the corner.

With that score the sense of belief that today was the day to beat the All Blacks could be felt all around the ground, Stephen Jones converted to give Wales a 10 – 3 advantage.

Two penalty goals from Mehrtens pulled the visitors back into the game, giving Wales a one-point advantage at the break.

But the All Blacks came out after the interval with all guns blazing and soon, the momentum of the game was shifting in their favour.

“We changed some things around during the break,” admitted Andrew Mehrtens.

“Our tactics weren’t quite right and we sorted that out and I think that showed with our second-half performance.

Mehrtens scored 23 points in his side’s win and his experience was crucial in guiding the All Blacks to their first victory of this year’s tour.

But the All Blacks – despite having five new caps in their starting 15 are class – and that class began to tell in the second period.

The ever lively Doug Howlett tormented the Welsh defence throughout, and when he broke clear, and exchanged passes with

Rodney King after 56 minutes to score, it was clear the All Blacks had stepped up a gear.

But Wales under Steve Hansen are showing a resilience and determination – coupled with an attacking ability that bodes well for next years World Cup – and these qualities were in evidence again as Wales put together an excellent spell of attacking rugby that resulted in a penalty try for Wales with five minutes remaining.

That score made it 22-17 to the visitors, and the home fans again had a faint sniff of victory.

But three late tries from man-of the-match Howlett, Kees Meeuws and Regan King in the dying minutes, put the result beyond doubt.

‘I’m proud of my players,” declared Steve Hansen.

“I thought we played well and perhaps we lacked some composure in the last five minutes, but up until that point we did very well.”

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