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'Messy' pitch concerns Halfpenny

Wales scrum-half Gareth Cooper tackles Jimmy Cowan
Wales' Gareth Cooper tackles Jimmy Cowan on the cut-up stadium pitch

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny has hit out at the state of the Millennium Stadium pitch after the Welsh slipped to a 21st consecutive loss to New Zealand.

The playing surface, which is made up of imported grass pallets, cut up badly in the 19-12 defeat by the All Blacks.

A technical fault meant the stadium roof could not be closed earlier in the weeks when Cardiff suffered heavy rain.

"You could see after the game that it is a bit of a mess - and it has to be right, really," said Halfpenny.

The Millennium Stadium pitch has often be criticised since the arena opened in 1999 and stadium chiefs have invested heavily in ensuring the playing surface has the latest technology to assist the grass.

However, the pitch was exposed to a deluge of rain on Monday night as a blown fuse prevented the stadium's roof closing and protecting the temporary turf.

And as Wales are set to play a further three Tests to play on it in the space of 16 days this month, prospects of immaculate conditions seem remote - and the Welsh Rugby Union insist the pitch will not be re-laid.

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny is tackled by Wyatt Crockett and Jason Eaton
We are at the top level of sport. It's a fantastic facility, but we need a pitch

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny

"All the boys would say that at times they slipped on the surface," said Halfpenny.

"It is up to the groundsman to get that right. I am not too sure why it happened.

"We are at the top level of sport. It's a fantastic facility, but we need a pitch."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland also lashed out at the match officials as they did not punish All Black fly-half Dan Carter for a high tackle on Wales' replacement scrum-half Martin Roberts.

And after the Wales coach' verbal attack on officials 'not wanting to be involved in upsets,' he has now bemoaned the state of the pitch.

The roof was closed for Saturday's defeat to New Zealand but of the pitch problems, Gatland said: "I think it was a bit soft - we realise that.

"The All Blacks talked about wanting the roof closed and we wanted the roof closed so we could play some rugby.

"But unfortunately in the week they were unable to close the roof when it was raining.

It was cutting up a little bit and it would have been nice if it had been a wee bit harder. But it was the same for both teams.


All Blacks centre Conrad Smith added: "We had a walk around the pitch on Friday - and I thought it was the best I had seen it. It was just unfortunate it cut up.

"I think it affected the breakdown the most. When the boys were running on top of the surface they were all right, but when they tried to stand on their feet in contact it was really hard.

"You saw a lot of guys going off their feet. The ground was giving up under them."

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see also
Carter given one-match suspension
10 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Gatland lashes out at officials
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Wales 12-19 New Zealand
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Wales All Black but not blue
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Bellamy bemoans Millennium pitch
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Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
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All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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