Rugby Union: All Black pedigree prevails

Wales Under-19 0 New Zealand Under-19 25
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IT WAS a feat in itself that Wales should defy the seedings to reach the final of this 31st Fira Junior World Championships. But when it came to the crunch it was New Zealand who displayed the pedigree necessary to carry off the title.

While it was their first venture into the under-19 event, they played like seasoned campaigners in brushing Wales aside in front of more than 12,000 people at Stradey Park. They won by four tries, a penalty and a conversion to nil and could have improved that margin had Wales not shown the spirit that saw them beat England, Argentina and South Africa on the way to the final.

The recent improvement in Welsh rugby has come at senior level since the arrival of the new coach Graham Henry. But, ironically, it was one of former coach Kevin Bowring's right hand men who has been responsible for the success of this Wales side.

John Bevan, the former Wales and Lions wing, has been in charge over the past 10 days and he can be proud of what this side has achieved, despite failing at the final hurdle.

New Zealand were simply too streetwise and clinical in their execution of the possession they earned at forward. And when it came to scoring tries and turning that possession into points they were well accomplished too. It took them just 10 minutes to expose a stretched Welsh defence, Gerrard Fasaualu escaping the cover to add to the brace of tries he scored in the semi-final victory over Ireland.

Wales were hindered by the conditions and though they tried to take the game wide, the slippery ball prevented them from making any headway. A mistake in midfield from full-back Rhys Williams enabled New Zealand to claim possession and Fasaualu was away and celebrating his second try.

It was not until nine minutes into the second half that New Zealand increased that advantage, but when right-wing Junior Muliaina won the race for the line, the junior All Blacks were comfortably in front and on their way to the trophy.

Their fourth and final try came from flanker Richard McGaw after concerted work from his pack and a conversion of that score and a penalty from stand- off Riki Flutey completed the scoring on a disappointing afternoon for the Welsh.

This may have been the first time New Zealand had entered the competition, but they will be back next year and on the evidence of this will take some beating.

New Zealand: Tries Fasaualu 2, Muliaina, McGaw; Conversion Flutey; Penalty Flutey.

WALES: R Williams (D Peel, 45); K James, J Robinson, M Price, R Johnston; C Sweeney, R Powell; D Pattison (R Davies, 67), C Thomas, G Woods (R Mills, 67), D Adams (C Bowen, 45), A Jones (capt), J Bater (A Chiffi, 60), T Morris, M Owen (M Griffiths, 56).

NEW ZEALAND: S Paku; J Muliaina, A Mauger (J Shoemark, 68), G Fasaualu (J Stewart, 68), R Flutey (L Mahoney, 70); D Gibson, C Dermody (T Woodcock, 66); J Ward (capt), C Johnson, B Mika (R Evans, 67), D Quate, S Bates (R Finch, 70), R McGaw, J Collins (R Vallace, 43).

Referee: S Lander (RFU).