Wales (6) 12 Pens: S Jones 4 New Zealand (6) 19 Try: Hore Con: Carter Pens: Carter 4
By Bruce Pope
Gareth Cooper is lifted off the ground against New Zealand
Wales' 56-year wait for a win against New Zealand continued after they were beaten despite a gutsy effort at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The All Blacks dominated territory and possession and despite being level 6-6 at the break always looked stronger.
Rival fly-halves Dan Carter and Stephen Jones kicked two penalties apiece in the opening half.
Carter added two penalties and Andrew Hore scored a try before Jones gave Wales hope with a 75th-minute penalty.
Wales again fell agonisingly short. Dan Carter did not miss a kick as he moved to within a point of Andrew Mehrtens' All Blacks Test points record.
But Wales rival Stephen Jones was also immaculate with the boot and hooker Hore's try proved the difference as the All Blacks finally broke through having been held up twice over the line.
Unlike last year there was no grand stand-off after New Zealand had performed the Haka, with Wales receiving the challenge and then respectfully trotting to the sidelines.
Wales had not come to stand on ceremony, though, and piled into their visitors with gusto from the kick-off.
Gatland criticises referee Joubert
In between some fierce rucking there was the inevitable aerial ping-pong, an exchange that allowed James Hook to take some confidence-boosting high kicks in the unfamiliar position of full-back for Wales.
A jinking run out of defence from Gareth Cooper and a neat pass out of the back of the hand launched a swift counter by the home side.
Wales captain Ryan Jones made ground down the left and New Zealand conceded a penalty.
The chance, tight on the touchline and 40 metres out, was just beyond the range of Jones, so Leigh Halfpenny was thrown the ball.
The Blues wing's kick had the distance but slid just across the face of the posts.
New Zealand were next to break, taking a quick line-out to send debutant Zac Guildford away down the left wing.
The foray earned New Zealand their first pot at goal and Carter made no mistake to open the scoring with 13 minutes gone.
Fly-half Jones levelled the scores with his first penalty attempt soon after, but Wales then had to defend their line fiercely.
Carter stabbed a clever grubber low into the 22 and although Halfpenny, sweeping behind his backline, was alert to the danger, he was swamped under three tacklers.
The wing tried to hang on, conceding a penalty in the process, but New Zealand won the ruck - Richie McCaw and company to the fore as usual - and surged at the try line.
Referee Craig Joubert asked for a television replay, with Wales saved by an All Black knock-on spotted among the arms and legs.
New Zealand still had the penalty, though, and Carter restored their three-point lead.
After all the talk over the Wales tight-head position in the build-up, there were only a handful of scrums in the first half-hour.
But bragging rights went to Paul James as he justified coach Warren Gatland's faith to hand him the number three shirt - twice earning penalties against rival rookie Wyatt Crockett on the Kiwi loose-head.
With the forwards looking solid and combative, Wales' backs had the platform to attack.
Shane Williams countered at every opportunity and Jamie Roberts soon caught the eye with a clean break through the middle.
Number eight and captain Ryan Jones was on the runner's shoulder in support to carry on the attack which yielded another penalty chance, fly-half Stephen Jones levelling the scores at 6-6.
Last year Wales had led 9-6 at half-time and another tight scoreline at the break promised a thrilling second half - and the tease of that elusive Wales win over the All Blacks.
New Zealand restarted with ominous intent and Wales had to scramble to stop Mils Muliaina scoring after wing Cory Jane's neat pass inside.
The move still earned another penalty and Carter stepped up to continue his 100% record and move to within six points of Mehrtens' record.
Wales still looked dangerous but even with Roberts and Tom Shanklin making headway in midfield, the men in red were unable to threaten the opposition 22.
New Zealand, in contrast, were starting to click and on 56 minutes finally broke Wales' stubborn resistance.
Ma'a Nonu did the initial damage, creating the hole that saw Guildford stopped just short of a try on his Test debut.
All Blacks power breaks Wales
But the Kiwi forwards arrived at pace in support and hooker Hore bludgeoned his way over, Carter converting.
Now with a 10-point gap to shield them, New Zealand surged forward and Wales had to endure two nail-biting TMO decisions in quick succession.
First Carter almost put Conrad Smith over, only for Shane Williams to get an arm between ball and ground.
Then from the resulting five-metre scrum, Ryan Jones performed similar heroics on opposite number eight Kieran Read.
But New Zealand still forced a penalty and Carter took his afternoon's tally to 14 points, and the visitors' advantage to 19-9 with a quarter-hour remaining.
Stephen Jones reduced the deficit with a long-range penalty, but Wales still needed something spectacular if they were to threaten a win.
It so nearly came from Shane Williams as the Ospreys wing broke away down the left before carving infield.
Replacement scrum-half Martin Roberts was on Williams' heels, but as he took the pass was floored by the exceptional Carter who had raced back in defence.
Carter's challenge on Roberts was high and after being replayed on the stadium's big screen he earned the ire of home fans, but he apologised to the Wales replacement scrum-half without having been penalised.
Moments later Hook almost squeezed in at the left corner but just ran out of space as three tacklers closed on him.
With five minutes remaining fly-half Jones kept up his own immaculate kicking record to bring Wales back to within a converted try.
Then as New Zealand attacked, Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones intercepted a pass and raced clear.
The All Blacks streamed back and closed in on the galloping Lion who desperately searched for a Welsh shirt to pass to.
Guildford read the pass and was able to knock it backwards, but Wales still had great field position as the clock ran down.
But New Zealand dug in hard to win back the ball and hold off Wales, although there is every evidence that the gap between the two sides has closed a little more.
Wales: Hook; Halfpenny, Shanklin, J Roberts, S Williams; S. Jones, Cooper; Jenkins, Rees, P James, A-W Jones, Charteris, Powell, M Williams, R Jones (capt). Replacements: M Roberts for Cooper (54), Bennett for Rees (60), Duncan Jones for P James (60), B Davies for Charteris (68), Dafydd Jones for Powell (66). Not Used: J Davies, T James.
New Zealand: Muliaina; Jane, C. Smith, Nonu, Guildford; Carter, Leonard; Crockett, Hore, Tialata, Thorn, Eaton, Kaino, McCaw (capt), Read. Replacements: Cowan for Leonard (49), Franks for Crockett (59), Donnelly for Eaton (54), Thomson for Read (65). Not Used: Flynn, Donald, B. Smith.
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