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All Blacks pound Wales

Sportal.co.nz     26 Nov 2006    

Scoring five tries to one, three of them to wing Sitiveni Sivivatu, in conditions that were soft, the All Blacks posted a record number of points, although not a record margin in Wales.

The Welsh threat to take the game to New Zealand foundered on an inability to pierce solid All Blacks defence, and the lack of solidity at the set pieces.

The Welsh lacked the speed, finesse, firepower and physical strength to satisfactorily compete with the All Blacks, even when the side was considerably changed with the introduction of replacements. Turnovers were an area of almost complete All Blacks dominance.

Scrum power took its toll of the home side while the intensity of the All Blacks tackling also took the sting out of many Welsh thrusts.

The game started without an on-field haka due to a dispute between the All Blacks and Welsh Rugby Union management and was done by the team in the dressing room and replayed on the Stadium screen once the match had started.

While the Welsh stated their intention to run the ball, the game opened with a series of downfield kicks and it was from one missed touch by centre Tom Shanklin that right wing Rico Gear punished the home side.

He raced downfield and set in train a series of quick rucks that saw ball finally moved left where Sivivatu drew the last line of defence, fullback Kevin Morgan and passed infield for second five-eighths Luke McAlister to cross.

Penalties awarded against Wales at the breakdowns resulted in three goals converted by first five-eighths Dan Carter.

His Welsh rival Stephen Jones landed the first points for his side with a penalty goal after 26 minutes.

However, with seven minutes of the half left, it was Sivivatu who was rewarded for his outstanding work rate by scoring after good lead-up work by Carter, centre Conrad Smith and hooker Anton Oliver.

Another try on halftime, to Sivivatu came from a midfield turnover executed by tighthead prop Carl Hayman. The All Blacks led 28-3 at halftime.

The second half opened with Carter adding another penalty goal.

After 15 minutes, captain Richie McCaw was sin-binned for allegedly killing the ball at a ruck, following an early warning.

Wales tried everything, forward assaults, lineout options from penalties, moving the ball wide, but it was only when the All Blacks had 14 men that flanker Martyn Williams finally got over the line from a lineout drive. Replacement centre James Hook added the conversion.

Almost immediately replacement first five-eighths Nick Evans marked his first touch of the ball, after a lineout, by accelerating through a gap and finding Sivivatu on hand to take the pass to score his third.

Gear had few opportunities on the right wing, but a powerful run six minutes from fulltime carried him to just short of the line and in the resulting melee a penalty try was awarded.

Wales had cause to be thankful that the All Blacks did not quite achieve the continuity it wanted, with lineout opportunities lost at the transfer from forwards to backs.

Scorers 45 (Sitiveni Sivivatu 3, Luke McAlister, tries; penalty try; Daniel Carter 2 con, 4 pen; Nick Evans 2 con) Wales 10 (Martyn Williams try; James Hook con; Stephen Jones pen). HT: 28-3.