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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 11:33 GMT
All Blacks survive Wales scare
Joe Rokocoko
New Zealand 53
Tries: Rokocoko (2), MacDonald, Williams, Howlett (2), Spencer, Mauger
Cons: MacDonald 5
Pen: MacDonald
Wales 37
Tries: Taylor, Parker, Charvis, S Williams
Cons: S Jones 4
Pens: S Jones 3

New Zealand 53-37 Wales

New Zealand were given a mighty fright by Wales in a thrilling Pool D match at the Rugby World Cup before eventually sealing a quarter-final clash with South Africa.

The All Blacks were firm favourites going into the game in Sydney but looked to be heading for one of the biggest-ever upsets when they trailed 37-33 at the start of the second half.

Wales were magnificent, shrugging off the criticism that had come their way in the wake of coach Steve Hansen's decision to rest several key players.

But, after shaking New Zealand to the core, they finally ran out of steam and now face a mouth-watering battle against England in the last eight.

When Joe Rokocoko scythed his way through for the opening try of the game after just two minutes, the signs were ominous.

But, after the game had been held up following a neck injury to Garan Evans, Wales hit back in tremendous style.

Mark Taylor cut through the New Zealand defence on 12 minutes, with Stephen Jones adding the conversion to tie the scores.

We'll be proud of our performance but we still lost
Wales skipper Colin Charvis

Then, after Rokocoko had burst through for his second try on 15 minutes, a Jones penalty ensured the gap was just four points.

Leon MacDonald profited from a quick tap penalty by Justin Marshall to help make the advantage 11 points.

And it quickly became 18 when Ali Williams touched down for the first time in an All Blacks shirt after claiming Carlos Spencer's high, crossfield kick.

But just when it looked as though New Zealand were about to pull away, Wales scored two tries in the final six minutes of the half.

Kiwi-born Sonny Parker finished off a great break from Shane Williams before skipper Colin Charvis dived over from close range after a well-worked move from a lineout.

Amazingly, Wales were within four points of the All Blacks, who had been expected to romp to victory in this Pool D game.

They were within one when Jones landed a penalty at the start of the second half.

And when Williams danced his way over on the left on 45 minutes, Wales were in the lead and heading for the biggest shock in World Cup history.

Doug Howlett crossed to reduce the deficit to a point again only for a Jones penalty to make it 37-33 for Wales. The All Blacks looked visibly shaken, but they gradually rediscovered their composure and began to put Wales under some severe pressure.

Spencer eventually forced his way over on 61 minutes to give New Zealand the lead again, though the advantage was only a point after MacDonald fluffed the conversion.

Wales continued to punch above their weight, but a second try for Howlett 10 minutes from the end opened up a six-point advantage in New Zealand's favour.

And the game was effectively over when, after MacDonald had kicked a penalty, Aaron Mauger scored his side's eighth try of the game.

New Zealand: M Muliaina; D Howlett, L MacDonald, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; C Spencer, J Marshall; D Hewett, K Mealamu, G Somerville; B Thorn, A Williams; R Thorne (capt), R McCaw, J Collins.
Replacements: M Hammett, K Meeuws, R So'oialo, M Holah, B Kelleher, D Carter, M Nonu.

Wales: G Evans; S Williams, M Taylor, S Parker, T Shanklin; S Jones, G Cooper; I Thomas, R McBryde, A Jones, B Cockbain, R Sidoli, J Thomas, C Charvis (capt), A Popham.
Replacements: M Davies, G Jenkins, C Wyatt, D Jones, D Peel, C Sweeney, G Thomas.

Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa).

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