New Zealand break Welsh resistance

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The Independent Online

reports from Johannesburg

New Zealand 34

Wales 9

A new-look Wales found that old habits die hard when they were defeated by New Zealand by two goals, a try, four penalties and a drop goal to two penalties and a drop goal here last night. Andrew Mehrtens, the All Blacks stand-off who kicked 18 points against Ireland on the same ground, went one better against the Welsh.

In front of a crowd of around 40,000 Wales had a chance in the first minute but Neil Jenkins' optimistic penalty from two yards inside the All Blacks' half floated just wide. However, Jenkins, who scored 22 points in the first group match against Japan, made amends with a drop goal from in front of the posts after Derwyn Jones had won a line-out which led to a spirited drive by the Welsh forwards. A minute later Mehrtens failed with a reasonably easy penalty from 30 yards.

The All Blacks had surprisingly switched their sensational wing, Jonah Lomu, from the left, where he caused such carnage against Ireland, to the right. The 19-stone powerhouse was soon brought into the game but was halted by Mark Bennett's courageous tackle. When Hemi Taylor, the Maori from Cardiff, fell offside at a ruck, Mehrtens landed the penalty to level the scores.

A prodigious Mehrtens kick gave the All Blacks a foothold on the Welsh line from where Wales conceded an indirect penalty. The All Blacks opted to take a scrum which Wales collapsed. Mehrtens failed with the penalty attempt but then the All Blacks upped the tempo.

They won a series of rucks and mauls and after a spell of constant pressure the ball was moved along the line and Walter Little seized on a hapless fly kick from Greg Prosser. Prosser, instead of clearing his line, simply tapped the ball to Little who had ample space to cross for the first try of the game in the 20th minute. Mehrtens converted and added a penalty in the 33rd minute.

New Zealand did not have to wait long for their second try when another concerted attack sucked in the Welsh defence and Marc Ellis had time and space to brush off the challenge of Ieuan Evans. Mehrtens again converted.

On the stroke of half-time Jenkins gave Wales a crumb of encouragement by kicking a splendid penalty but at the break Wales were up against it with the All Blacks holding a commanding 20-6 lead.

Wales began the second half by incurring the wrath of the English referee Ed Morrison. Morrison, who was roundly booed by the considerable Welsh contingent in this magnificent stadium, penalised them twice in quick succession, and Mehrtens was successful on both occasions to extend the All Blacks lead to 26-6.

An uncharacteristic fumble by full-back Glen Osborne gave Wales a valuable foothold deep in New Zealand territory from where they were awarded a penalty and Jenkins succeeded with his third kick.

Jenkins failed with a penalty attempt before the Welsh mounted a great drive which had the All Black forwards on the back foot. Even so when New Zealand attacked they did so with more conviction and from one long- range assault the Welsh defence was stretched to the limit and Mehrtens seemed to have all the time in the world to drop a goal.

After another period of Welsh pressure which came to nothing Lomu, who had been kept remarkably quiet by the Welsh tackling, exploded into life. Given the ball just inside his own half he rounded Wayne Proctor and then cut inside Anthony Clement. Although Proctor managed to get back to bring the giant wing to ground, Lomu got back to his feet and found support on his elbow from Kronfeld who was able to crash over for the All Blacks' third try. Lomu damaged a shoulder in the course of the move and went off for treatment.

WALES: A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli), M Hall (Cardiff, capt), G Thomas (Bridgend), W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Jones (Swansea); R Evans (Llanelli), J Humphreys (Cardiff), J Davies (Neath), G Prosser (Pontypridd), D Jones (Cardiff), G Llewellyn (Neath), H Taylor (Cardiff), M Bennett (Cardiff). Replacements: S Ford (Cardiff), D Evans (Treorchy), A Moore, E Lewis, M Griffiths (all Cardiff), G Jenkins (Swansea).

NEW ZEALAND: G Osborne (North Harbour); M Ellis (Otago), F Bunce, W Little (both North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens, G Bachop (both Canterbury); C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (all Auckland), I Jones, B Larsen (both North Harbour), J Joseph (Otago), M Brewer (Canterbury), J Kronfeld (Otago). Replacements: E Rush (North Harbour), S Culhane (Southland), A Strachan (North Harbour), K Schuler (North Harbour), R Loe (Canterbury), N Hewitt (Hawke's Bay).

Referee: E Morrison (Eng).