Ruthless All Blacks clinch series against Wales
New Zealand win second test 36-22 to maintain one of test rugby’s longest winning streaks, dating back to 1953
New Zealand produced a ruthless second-half display to defeat Wales 36-22 in the second test in Wellington on Saturday and maintain one of world rugby’s longest winning streaks.
The world champions ran in five tries to three to claim the three-test series with a match to spare and clinch their 28th straight win over Wales, dating back to 1953.
Valiant Wales kept pace with New Zealand for 51 minutes but had no answers when the All Blacks went up a notch, orchestrated by Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said his side was competitive but a three-try burst early in the second half effectively sealed the result for the New Zealanders.
“I’d like to think they’ll know they were in a tough test match tonight,” he said.
“It was really physical, we took it to them but they’ve had a 10-minute period when they’ve been absolutely clinical and ruthless and that’s proved the difference.”
Wales repeatedly worked themselves into threatening positions, only for attacks to falter through basic mistakes.
Injuries to key players Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa meant the All Blacks never reached their slick best in the first half, with the scores tied 10-10 at the break.
Skipper Kieran Read paid tribute to Wales, saying the All Blacks were unable to find their rhythm until after the break.
“They came out flying at us and we had to dig deep. They’re an exceptionably good side, they pushed us and we had to work really hard,” he said.
“We got a bit of extra ball in the second half and made it count.”
New Zealand suffered a setback in the first two minutes when Fekitoa was forced into the blood bin after a head clash with Jamie Roberts.
Wales ran at his inexperienced replacement Seta Tamanivalu but failed to capitalise and Fekitoa helped set up Israel Dagg’s 20th-minute try when he returned.
Dagg, playing his 50th test after 10 months in the international wilderness, wrong-footed the Welsh defence with a dummy pass before touching down.
Fly half Cruden was stretchered off eight minutes before the break with a possible neck injury, with Barrett coming off the bench.
Wales lifted their intensity before half-time and were rewarded with a 39th-minute try when Jonathan Davies’ looping pass found Alun Wyn Jones unmarked on the wing.
Ben Smith broke the deadlock when he slipped through two defenders after Barrett set him up in the 51st minute.
Smith returned the favour for Barrett three minutes later, with the fly half stretching out to dot the ball between the posts and make it 24-10 with the conversion. From there it turned into a romp as Smith set up Waisake Naholo five minutes later to put the result beyond doubt.
The relentless All Blacks were still not done and Ardie Savea burst from deep within his own half for another five-pointer to send the sell-out crowd of 36,000 into a frenzy.
Liam William and Jonathan Davies both scored consolation tries in the last 10 minutes but by then it was too late.
The third test is in Dunedin next Saturday.