Rugby Union: Spencer leaves his marks on Wales' second string

Wales A 8 New Zealand 51
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The Independent Online
The All Black artists gave way to the artisans at Sardis Road last night and the Welsh second-string at least took the opportunity to restore some of the self-respect conceded so timidly by Llanelli at the weekend.

Gareth Llewellyn's side fought hard to ask some serious questions of the tourists and it was not until Carlos Spencer, one of the few genuine New Zealand Test contenders on view, spiced the proceedings with a dash of genius after an hour that his countrymen could be at all sure of victory.

Having seen the Scarlets pay heavily for their fragility under pressure at Stradey Park on Saturday night, the latest red-shirted lambs to the slaughter decided that, whatever might happen in the later stages, they would make a physical point or two while their opponents were still fresh from the haka.

Byron Hayward set the tone by aiming his kick-off straight at Jonah Lomu - New Zealand's one-man Southern Alp had his nose rubbed in it by a posse of offside Welshmen - and then Andy Moore put the opposite wing, Tana Umaga, in similar strife with a perfect hanging kick.

If all that constituted a statement of intent, the Welsh underlined it with an impertinent early try. Lomu, seemingly none the worse for his battles with a kidney disease, set off on a lone stampede but the All Black support was unusually slow and, when Gareth Thomas suddenly appeared in an acre of space in centre field, he dummied Umaga to free Dafydd James on a joyous 40-metre run to the line.

With Martyn Williams producing some typically fearless ball-winning on the floor, the tourists were struggling to find their shape. But Spencer narrowed the deficit with a penalty at the end of the first quarter and then kicked intelligently to create a try for Todd Miller. Spencer's second penalty on the half-time whistle stretched the gap to eight points.

A flurry of Welsh activity earned Hayward a penalty within five minutes of the restart, but Anton Oliver reasserted some authority following a big run from Lomu in midfield. Then came Spencer's game-breaking contribution, a sparkling gem of a run down the left touchline to create the try of the night for Robinson.

The Kiwis got away towards the end with a try from Lomu, two for Scott McLeod and a final score from Mark Carter.

Wales A: Try James; Penalty Hayward. New Zealand: Tries McLeod 2, Miller, Oliver, Robinson, Lomu, Carter; Conversions Spencer 5; Penalties Spencer 2.

WALES A: M Back (Swansea); G Thomas (Bridgend), N Boobyer (Llanelli), J Lewis (Pontypridd), D James (Pontypridd); B Hayward (Ebbw Vale), A Moore (Richmond); I Buckett (Swansea), G Jenkins (Swansea), C Anthony (Swansea), G Llewellyn (Harlequins, capt), C Stephens (Bridgend), M Spiller (Pontypridd), C Wyatt (Llanelli), M Williams (Pontypridd). Replacements: L Jarvis (Cardiff) for Thomas, 46; N Eynon (Pontypridd) for Buckett, 47; D Thomas (Swansea) for Wyatt, 70; S Roy (Cardiff) for Stephens, 77; H Harries (Harlequins) for Hayward, 77.

NEW ZEALAND: T Miller (Waikato); T Omaga (Wellington), S McLeod (Waikato), W Little (North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); C Spencer (Auckland), M Robinson (North Harbour); M Allen (Central Vikings), A Oliver (Otago), C Barrell (Canterbury), C Riechelmann (Auckland), M Cooksley (Waikato), T Blackadder (Canterbury, capt), S Surridge (Canterbury), M Carter (Auckland). Replacements: A Hopa (Waikato) for Riechelmann, 64; G Slater (Taranaki) for Barrell, 62.

Referee: J Pearson (Durham).

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