Another match against New Zealand, another defeat for Wales. This one came in Dunedin and it was accompanied by curses over a decision by an Irish referee.
Wales were trailing 10-6 in the 32nd minute of a competitive first half when, in what their coach, Warren Gatland, called a "big moment", George Clancy failed to penalise the All Black centre Conrad Smith for coming in at the side of a ruck. The wing Corey Jane pounced on the possession won by Smith and shrugged off Tom Prydie, Ryan Jones and Lee Byrne to score.
"I was very disappointed with Corey Jane's try and I thought it was a big moment in the game," said Gatland. "I felt Smith came in from the side, took the ball and flicked it between his legs – it was a costly seven points for us. I was really pleased with the first-half performance and we put the All Blacks under a lot of pressure. But that try was an important moment for us."
The All Blacks' fly-half, Dan Carter, starred once again on an emotional night at Carisbrook, the old Otago ground known as "the House of Pain", which was hosting its final rugby Test 102 years after its first. Carter scored two second-half tries and collected a 27-point haul, a record against Wales. New Zealand are unbeaten against the men in red since 1953.
Some local critics had voiced concerns over Carter's form through a mixed Super 14 season with the Crusaders, but he gave the Carisbrook crowd some fond memories with a vintage performance that proved he is back to his scintillating best.
Gatland said: "The All Blacks were outstanding in the second half. They punished us on any turnover ball and there are no complaints about the result. We had three chances, through Leigh Halfpenny, Mike Phillips and Alun Wyn Jones, but we didn't take our opportunities.
"But there are positives for us to take and I have already received text messages from people in Wales saying for 50 minutes that was as good as we have produced, so I have mixed emotions. Now we need to maintain that for longer periods. We have to be able to sustain that intensity for 80 minutes and keep learning by playing the best teams in the world.
"It's a great opportunity. We could have gone on tour to other countries and got results. But that would give you a false sense of where you are at. The All Blacks played at that intensity for the full 80 minutes and some of the youngsters will have learned a massive amount from that."
Gatland's men had looked for a brief period in the first half as though they were set to cause a major shock. They took a six-point lead through the boot of Stephen Jones and Halfpenny, who kicked a penalty each. Jones also kicked a drop-goal. They trailed by only 15-9 at the interval, following tries by the hooker Keven Mealamu and Jane.
But after Carter crossed the Wales line for his first try, in the 52nd minute, the tourists were simply blown away by the All Blacks' sheer pace and power. The fly-half scored his second and New Zealand's fourth try before Richard Kahui, on as a replacement for the full-back Israel Dagg, rounded off the scoring.
Graham Henry, the All Blacks' head coach who led Wales between 1998 and 2002, said: "It was a great way to say thank you and farewell to a great, historic ground. I was delighted with the performance, especially in the second half. The crowd were superb and they were right behind the boys in black. And I thought our two leaders, in Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, were outstanding."
Stephen Jones, the Wales fly-half, and the centre Andrew Bishop went to hospital for X-rays on suspected broken hands. They will discover the results today. The sides meet again in Hamilton on Saturday.
New Zealand I Dagg (R Kahui, 41); C Jane, C Smith, B Stanley, J Rokocoko; D Carter (A Cruden, 73), J Cowan (P Weepu, 60); B Franks (T Woodcock, 46), K Mealamu (A de Malmanche, 76), O Franks, B Thorn, A Boric (S Whitelock, 57), V Vito, K Read (A Thomson, 69), R McCaw (capt).
Wales L Byrne; L Halfpenny, A Bishop (T Knoyle, 74), J Roberts (J Davies, 68), T Prydie; S Jones (D Biggar, 57), M Phillips; P James, M Rees (H Bennett, 69), A Jones (J Yapp, 57), B Davies, A W Jones, J Thomas, R Jones (capt), G Thomas (R McCusker, 58).
Referee G Clancy (Ireland).Reuse content