Another impressive performance by Beauden Barrett has seen a final test thrashing from a dominant All Blacks side 46-6 over a tired Wales side in Dunedin. Celebrating the 50th tests for Aaron Smith (pictured) and Brodie Retallick, they ended the Series on a high.
In one of the Welsh teams poorest performances against an All Blacks team in recent history, captain Sam Warburton didn’t have many answers to media following his sides six try to nil thrashing. Unlike the opening two matches of the Steinlager Series, the game was literally gone for Wales at halftime. Trailing 18-6 after the All Blacks kicked into gear early, they delivered a 80-minute performance for the first time this year.
“The scoreboard is a fair reflection, it was poor tonight and with basic mistakes we were definitely second best”, Warburton said to SkySport after the match.
All Blacks vs Wales: As It Happened
Wales were in the lead early, after holding steady possession in the opening five-minutes. Dan Biggar converted from a penalty to put the visitors up 3-0. Playing all the rugby early, Wales kept the All Blacks firmly in there own half and weren’t helped when Julian Savea made three simple handling errors. Unable to snatch a try from that advantage, the scores were levelled to 3-3 when Barrett slotted his first kick of the night.
Biggar put Wales back in the lead 6-3, with his second successful kick after the All Blacks were penalized for obstruction. Ben Smith came within inches of scoring after being put into space cleverly by Barrett. The speed of the backline was clear to see, but desperate defence saw the ball held up in-goal. The home side had an attacking five-metre scrum, and under heavy pressure, the Welsh scrum crumbled. Appealling for a penalty try, match referee Jerome Garces stuck with just a penalty.
Choosing to scrum again, some great work from Kieran Read and Aaron Smith gave the home side clean ball. On attack down the right wing, Smith dived in the corner as he was tackled. Unclear in real-time, lTMO George Ayub was asked to call it. Replays showed the All Black winger had just touched the ball down before his knee hit the touch line. Awarded, the home town boy had his 21st International try.
Barrett couldn’t convert, but the All Blacks had inched back into the lead 8-6. George Moala busted the red line, a great run downfield that had fans on their feet. Unable to take advantage, a penalty was called against the Welsh. Barrett slotted his second penalty goal of the night, extending the All Blacks lead to 11-6.
George Moala impressive at centre
Suddenly with all the momentum in the All Blacks favour, Wales chose to kick out of their territory. Israel Dagg gathered and linked with his winger in a sweeping upfield movement. Very nearly resulting in Moala scoring, there was a suspected knock-on as the ball was grounded. Consultation with the TMO showed the midfielder had lost control of the ball on the goal line. However, Moala wouldn’t make the same mistake twice and took full advantage of a second opportunity to score.
Another dazzling break by Dagg; who beat two Welsh defenders clean, set up a counter attack from the halfway line. This a move was evidence that the Blacks were gaining their confidence. That led to Moala’s legitimate second International try. Barrett converted, and the All Blacks were out to an 18-6 lead.
With halftime knocking, Wales blew their one chance to get back near to the All Blacks on the scoreboard. Aiming to play a power-game near the try line, that was stopped short. The pace of the defensive line, coupled with miscommunication in the Welsh backline, saw the scoring opportunity go begging.
The Second Half
A forward pass within their own in-goal was the worst start possible. That schoolboy error saw Wales hand the All Blacks an attacking five-metre scrum as the second half began. At speed, Barrett took the first pass and saw his chance. Ben Smith drew the defence, and the first-five drove at the line. With his captain behind him, he powered his way to the tryline. Scoring his 11th International try, it was great vision and the All Blacks third of the night [so far]. Continuing an impressive performance in the starting role tonight, Barrett converted and the All Blacks lead grew to 25-6.
With the open play favouring the home side, it was a different story in the tight. The All Blacks found themselves a man down when flanker Sam Cane was sent to the sin bin. His fourth penalty of the night, this could have turned the game in Wales’s direction. Gladly for the Chiefs co-captain, his team mates rallied during his time off the park.
After a strong performance in his second Test appearance, Moala clutched at his forearm after a heavy tackle. Replaced by Waisake Naholo, the midfielder received a lot of attention on the side line, as medics checked the forearm for a break. An ice-pack was strapped to his elbow/forearm and he will be assessed on Sunday. Ben Smith remained on the right wing for this period and Naholo slotted into centre. The All Blacks have trained for such contingencies, and it showed their class tonight.
New players blooded
24-year old prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi came off the bench to make his All Black debut, as the changes continued. Reward for three impressive seasons of Super Rugby for the Blues prop, and Steve Hansen commended his effort post-match. Hometown heroes Lima Sopoaga, and new All Black debutante Liam Squire were subbed on also, with 25-minutes to play.
That saw the backline changed again, with Sopoaga taking over the role of first-five. Barrett shifted out to fullback as Crotty retired to the bench. Dagg went to right wing and Smith filled the second-five position. Their ability to inter-change will be a strength for the side. Barrett and Sopoaga worked in tandem and the midfield held-out a threatening Welsh side. Threatening, but also tiring.
Luke Romano replaced Retallick who was playing his 50th match. The big unit made ten tackles and played his part in the win as usual. Wales too made changes, but not as successfully. That factor allowed Barrett to score his second try of the night, after some beautiful passing from Read and Sopoaga created an advantage. Brilliantly created by the All Blacks; now in a commanding position following the conversion 32-6. The strong night just continued for Barrett as his opposite, Biggar missed the crucial tackle and it was looking like a ‘black-out’ in Dunedin.
Wales run ragged by dominant All Blacks
The All Blacks scored their fifth try to Dane Coles, of what was now a one-sided match. This five pointer came from some good decision making and quick hands by Coles’ forward pack partner Cane. It was the Hurricanes captains sixth try at International level in 36-matches. Not many hookers have his pace, rewarded with an early night after Barrett converted. The All Blacks extended their dominance to 39-6.
Codie Taylor and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow were subbed on, as the coaching staff felt the game was in the bag. The All Blacks began to play a slightly more unstructured style of rugby at this time. They turned down easy penalty kicks, as they vied for more tries. Hansen said they threw too many 50-50 balls in this period, but it was hard not to attack. With the lack of structure came some scrappy rugby in the latter stages. Wales advanced downfield and threatened to break their duck, but Cane came up with a wonderful turnover.
Two minutes into overtime, quick reactions saw Dagg scored a runaway try to cap off the match result. The sixth touchdown of the night for the All Blacks. Barrett converted from the 22-metre line, having the final say of the game. Both men had played their parts and all 23 will feel satisfied in the series win. From a thrilling first test, and a more assured second game in Wellington, they will be happier with tonight’s effort.
Final test thrashing
The All Blacks ran out easy winners 46 -6 in Dunedin, by keeping Wales to just two penalties to their six tries. It puts an explanation point on the final game of the Steinlager Series, and sets up the New Zealand side for a full season ahead. Wales now lumber home after nearly 12 months of international rugby, licking their wounds and comprehensively beaten 3-0.
All Blacks 46
Tries: Ben Smith, George Moala, Beauden Barrett 2, Dane Coles, Isreal Dagg. Penalties: Beauden Barrett 2, Conversions: Beauden Barrett 6
Penalties: Dan Biggar 2
“Main photo credit”