New Zealand beats Wales 46-6 in 3rd test
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored two tries and 26 points as New Zealand crushed Wales 46-6 in the 3rd rugby test on Saturday to sweep the three-match series 3-0.
Rookie center George Moala had a try disallowed but immediately scored another which showcased the best of All Blacks rugby as New Zealand preserved a 63-year winning streak against Wales.
Moala was playing only his second test and his first in more than a year as he knitted sweetly into an All Blacks backline in which Barrett, fullback Israel Dagg and winger Ben Smith were at their predatory best.
The 25-year-old Moala, auditioning for a permanent role in the New Zealand midfield, repeatedly split open the Wales backline defense in the first half. He came close to scoring his second test try in the 29th minute but was controversially denied, then scored 10 minutes later at the end of a movement which sprawled 70 meters and in which Dagg handled three times.
Barrett scored two second half tries, running through his opposite Dan Biggar on both occasions, and kicked five conversions and two penalties while Smith, likely the best fullback in the world, looked the best wing with New Zealand's first try.
Hooker Dane Coles also scored tries as Wales weakened and eventually buckled, as was expected, at the end of a tiring series and exhausting season. Wales first came together as a squad on June 15 last year and have been together almost continually since, through the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations tournaments. Their will was strong but at last they gave way to slow attrition.
"It was a bit messy at times but it was a good Welsh side and to get the 3-0 result was pretty pleasing," All Blacks captain Kieran Read said. "We came out and showed a lot better intent in the first half, looked after the ball.
"They're coming off a long season and we're pretty fired up about playing for 80 minutes."
New Zealand won the first test 39-21 and the second 36-22, in each match overrunning Wales late, after tight first halves. The hosts were determined on Saturday to settle the issue, taking the match out of Wales' grasp earlier and did so, scoring two unanswered tries to lead 18-6 at halftime.
"It was a big improvement and defensively we were great," coach Steve Hansen said. "That first 65 minutes was probably as good as we want it to be at this stage of the season but you're always wanting more."
Moala shone in the 29th minute when Smith made a break down a thin corridor on the right-hand side and kicked infield for Dagg to continue the movement. The All Blacks shipped the ball through quick hands to Moala who was turned around by Biggar as he dived for the line with players outside him. Replays appeared to show he had grounded the ball but the try was disallowed.
He didn't have to wait long for recompense. Dagg sparked a magnificent All Blacks counter-attack in the 39th in which he handled three times and the ball weaved its way through forwards and backs before the move momentarily stalled on the Wales line. Moala had stayed in support and he plucked the ball from a ruck to dive over.
He was replaced in the 48th after a shoulder injury.
Wales had nothing left to throw at the All Blacks and, while it defended with determination, the score mounted steadily throughout the second half. New Zealand was too fit, too fast and too skilful for a Welsh team which had played above itself in the first two tests.
Barrett scored the first of his two tries immediately after halftime, acting as first receiver from a five-meter scrum and simply driving through Biggar to reach the line. His second try was sublime: quick passes from Kieran Read and Lima Sopoaga gave him an inch of space and he ran past Biggar before arcing infield to score.
Coles ran off a marvelous short pass from Sam Cane to score as the All Blacks ran Wales ragged. New Zealand had the confidence to make 12 changes to its lineup for Saturday's match and to blood three new caps: backrowers Elliot Dixon and Liam Squire and prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
The All Blacks were comfortable earlier in the second half to completely reorganize their backline, moving Barrett to fullback, Dagg to the wing and introducing Sopoaga at flyhalf.
Wales competed in the first two tests by slowing the pace of the game and keeping the ball away from the All Blacks for long periods. But it was denied that opportunity early in Saturday's match and the scoreline much more clearly reflected the difference between the teams.
Wales' only points came from penalties to Biggar.
"The scoreboard's a fair reflection," Wales captain Sam Warburton said. "The first two games I thought we played pretty well but it was poor today.
"Our kick-chase today was bad, they got a lot of success from their counter-attack and our defense wasn't good enough. Basic mistakes like that you just can't do over here."