Wales swept away by All Black tide as New Zealand score eight tries in Cardiff
Wales continued their 69-year losing streak against the All Blacks who dominated another contest that they never really looked like losing.
New Zealand had come into the Autumn internationals having lost to Ireland (twice), Argentina and South Africa and dropped from first to fourth in World Rugby’s official rankings.
Wales first victory on South African soil in the summer had given them hope of another historic victory but New Zealand were 17 points ahead within ten minutes thanks to two tries from Codie Taylor.
Wales hit back with tries from Rio Dyer and Justin Tipuric to put the scores on 23-29 and suggest some hope for Wales, but the door was firmly slammed in their faces as New Zealand ran in a series of second-half tries to come out the victors.
A series of injuries no doubt contributed to Wales’ dislocation as Leigh Halfpenny was ruled out of Wales’ starting lineup less than 90 minutes before kick-off at the Principality Stadium.
The British and Irish Lions full-back was withdrawn after aggravating his hamstring playing for the Scarlets.
Gareth Anscombe was switched to full-back, with Rhys Priestland starting at fly-half and Sam Costelow joining the replacements.
Halfpenny has not played for Wales since suffering a major knee injury in his 100th international against Canada in July 2021.
England’s Wayne Barnes, becoming the second referee after Nigel Owens to officiate 100 Test matches, awarded an early penalty to New Zealand, which Richie Mo’unga dispatched.
The All Blacks extended their led when flanker Dalton Papali’i punched a hole in the Wales defence and the ball was recycled for hooker Codie Taylor to sneak over close to the line.
Mo’unga converted and New Zealand had a 10-0 lead after 11 minutes.
New Zealand were soon on the front foot again and intense forward pressure brought a second try for Taylor.
Mo’unga added the extras and Wales were staring down the barrel at 17-0 down with a quarter of the game not yet played.
Wales finally got some possession in the All Blacks 22 and Tomos Williams and Nick Tompkins combined to send winger Rio Dyer in for a debut try. Anscombe converted to cut the gap to 10 points at 17-7.
Wales reduced the gap further after the All Blacks were caught offside in front of the posts and Anscombe slotted a simple penalty.
But New Zealand looked as if they would score every time they entered the Wales 22.
A third All Blacks try arrived after 35 minutes when Mo’unga, having a penalty advantage, kicked to the corner and Jordie Barrett beat Dyer in a battle to dot down and extend the visitors’ lead to 22-10.
Wales went into the interval 22-13 behind after Anscombe’s second penalty brought the first half to a close.
Wales’ most-capped player Alun Wyn Jones came on at the start of the second half with Dillon Lewis to add forward power.
Anscombe added another three points five minutes after the restart and it was a one-score game at 22-16.
But New Zealand quickly responded and scrum-half Aaron Smith, winning his 113th cap to become New Zealand’s most-capped back, broke some ineffective home tackling and Mo’unga converted for a 29-16 lead.
Wales were awarded a second try after a lengthy TMO review.
There were two checks with the first being whether Rhys Priestland or Mo’unga had got the touch from Tomos Williams’ chip.
Justin Tipuric’s grounding was also checked after the ball ran loose and the flanker collected, but both facets of play were deemed legitimate and Anscombe converted to make it 29-23.
But the All Blacks again instantly replied, with Smith claiming their fifth try and Mo’unga converting to restore the visitors’ advantage to 13 points.
The game looked beyond the tiring hosts when more forward pressure brought a sixth All Blacks try.
Number eight Ardie Savea broke to the right and showed good strength to make the score 41-23.
New Zealand were not finished there and Jordie Barrett had the simple task of collecting his brother Beauden’s pass for a seventh try. Beauden Barrett converted.
Samisoni Taukei’aho added an eighth try in the final moments and Beauden Barrett converted to complete a 55-23 victory.
It was New Zealand’s 33rd consecutive success in the fixture, with 25 of them coming by 15 points or more.
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