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Wales 25-37 New Zealand

Wales (9) 25
Try: Byrne Con: S Jones Pens: S Jones 6
New Zealand (13) 37
Tries: Gear 2, Muliaina, Toeava, Afoa Cons: Carter 3 Pens: Carter 2

Mils Muliaina

Highlights - Wales 25-37 New Zealand

By Bruce Pope
BBC Sport Wales at the Millennium Stadium

New Zealand were made to scrap every inch of the way by Wales but equalled South Africa's record of four Grand Slams over the Home Nations.

Stephen Jones' boot kept Wales in touch until late tries from Isaia Toeava and John Afoa saw New Zealand home.

Dan Carter had an off-day with the boot but the Kiwi fly-half still became the leading points scorer in Test rugby.

Hosea Gear, twice, and Mils Muliaina also crossed for New Zealand, with Lee Byrne getting a late Wales try.

This was Wales' 24th defeat to New Zealand since their last, distant, success in 1953 and Warren Gatland's side have now gone seven games against any opposition without a win.

Wales drew first blood when Jones was clipped by Gear as he followed up his own up-and-under, the fly-half converting the penalty from where the ball landed just outside the New Zealand 22.

But it took the All Blacks less than three minutes to reply with a try, as they drove deep into Welsh territory.

Sonny Bill Williams stood tall in the tackle and slipped the ball to Toeava on the charge, who in turn sent Gear over in the left corner.

Carter missed the conversion and the chance to equal Jonny Wilkinson's world record Test points haul of 1178.

Dan Carter becomes world rugby's record points scorer
Dan Carter becomes world rugby's record points scorer

The Canterbury star had begun the game needing just three points to overtake English fly-half rival Wilkinson and the moment finally arrived on eight minutes.

Wales had gone over the top at a ruck just their side of the halfway line but directly in front of the posts.

Carter set himself, took one quick glance and sent a low kick - not his best effort but now one of his most memorable - wobbling between the posts.

It was fitting that the milestone came against the same team that Carter made his international debut against in 2003, when he claimed his first 20 Test points in a 55-3 win in Hamilton.

While the rugby world had been waiting for that moment, Wales have been waiting 57 years for another win over New Zealand and ripped into their visitors in response.

Captain Matthew Rees and young back-rows Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton impressed in the close exchanges, waging their own personal battle with Richie McCaw and company.

606: DEBATE
bedfordwelsh

But an almighty hit by Muliaina on Bradley Davies knocked the ball out of the lock's grasp and set New Zealand away on another dangerous counter-attack.

The lesson of not giving this All Blacks side any loose ball to work with was hammered home once again in the 22nd minute, as they claimed a second try.

Carter fielded an aimless clearance and popped a simple ball to Muliaina on the scissors, allowing the full-back to race through almost untouched for an unconverted try.

By his high standards Carter was having an average day and minutes later the fly-half dallied a moment too long to clear, allowing Mike Phillips to block the kick and win a scrum in the Kiwi 22.

Wales probed left and then switched direction to create an overlap, only for James Hook to take on the chance himself and lose control as he slid for the line under Jimmy Cowan's tackle.

Their efforts deserved some reward, not least a powerful scrummaging performance that had the New Zealand front-row creaking.

While the clean break would not come, New Zealand were forced to ship penalties and Stephen Jones succeeded with two of the three chances presented to him - the one failure coming back off a post.

Coach Graham Henry hails 'composed' Kiwis

Carter, in contrast, was struggling with his kicking and another miss - his fourth failure of five - in first-half injury time left the All Blacks with just a 13-9 lead at the break.

Wales had the first sniff of the second period as they created space on the right for Tom Shanklin to race up field, but the move eventually broke down when wing Tom James was unable to hang onto a pass fractionally behind him.

New Zealand were rocking again when Rees emerged from a maul with the ball and kicked into space in the corner.

McCaw was on hand to gather, but was engulfed in chasers and Wales again ripped back possession to send a series of thrusts into the 22.

The All Blacks showed their class under pressure, however, and waited their moment to tear into a ruck in numbers to reclaim the ball.

Back came Wales and New Zealand finally lost their cool under pressure, replacement back-row Daniel Braid, on for the injured Kieran Read, earning a yellow card and presenting Jones with a regulation penalty to bring Wales to within a point.

Coach Warren Gatland 'proud' of Wales effort

Yet despite being a man down New Zealand replied with a classy try as Conrad Smith combined with Ma'a Nonu - on for Williams at centre - to bust the Welsh defence.

McCaw was in support to ensure quick ball and the All Blacks swept left for Gear to squeeze in at the flag despite George North's tackle.

Carter slotted the difficult conversion - radar ominously fixed - and New Zealand led 20-12 with 26 minutes remaining.

The fly-half added another penalty as New Zealand went back to basics by driving forward through the pack, but the Wales forwards were also hugely impressive at that type of game.

Jones was able to reply almost immediately thanks to his pack's efforts and then pulled Wales to within a converted try with a booming 47-metre kick.

But with a sniff of victory in their nostrils Wales were knocked back when the excellent Jerome Kaino caught Hook as he tried to kick, leading to a try for wing Toeava.

A fifth New Zealand try followed when Cowan's pass behind the back wrong-footed the Welsh defence for replacement prop Afoa to go under the posts.

Wales had the last say as Byrne finally crossed the Kiwi line after Shanklin had again shown up well, but Wales' long wait for a win over the All Blacks continues.


Wales: Byrne, North, Shanklin, Hook, Tom James, Stephen Jones, Phillips, Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Lydiate (Powell 48), Warburton (Martyn Williams 75), Ryan Jones (Thomas 48).
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Paul James, Richie Rees, Bishop.

New Zealand: Muliaina, Toeava, Smith, Williams (Nonu 49), Gear, Carter, Cowan, Woodcock, Mealamu (Hore 75), Owen Franks (Afoa 62), Thorn, Whitelock (Boric 55), Kaino, McCaw, Read (Braid 37).
Subs Not Used: Ellis, Donald.

Att: 73,789

Ref: A Lewis (Ireland).



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