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First half excellence seals win for All Blacks

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Sportal.co.nz     25 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Running hard, passing immaculately and supporting well, Savea's only blemish was an early drop of a kick aimed to test him under the high ball. For the rest he was in outstanding touch to confirm his arrival on the international scene.

Wales lacked any ability to fully test the rampant black tide, too often infringing needlessly and unable to match the speed at which New Zealand organised themselves both in attack and defence. They eschewed penalty goal chances but lacked the finesse to carry on the challenges until the final quarter by which time the game was well out of their reach.

New Zealand led 23-0 at half-time in an impressively sustained first half.

The All Blacks would have been disappointed with their finish to the game, and also the concession of the two tries to Wales.

Captain Richie McCaw had a dominant day in the loose and made some fearless breaks with the ball in hand. Again, the support from flanker Liam Messam and No.8 Kieran Read was consistently better than Wales could manage. Lock Luke Romano was strong in his running and his try was deserved reward.

Wales attempted to move New Zealand around the ground with a variety of kicks and breaks but too often lacked finesse in handling and passing to pressure the visitors. They also lacked discipline in the breakdown area and first five-eighths Aaron Cruden was able to land three penalty goals.

The game had a controversial start when hooker Andrew Hore's off the ball charge on lock Bradley Davies in the first exchanges forced Davies to leave the field.

Wales targeted wing Julian Savea with high kicks. He dropped the first, but from the second he palmed it back to fullback Israel Dagg deep in the 22m area. He broke two tackles and then linked with Savea who was up in support.

His strong run down the sideline stretched the defence and when he was knocked off balance first five-eighths Aaron Cruden carried the play on and the ball was swung quickly across field to the right where sheer weight of numbers allowed flanker Liam Messam to touch down for the first try in the 25th minute.

Just before half-time the forwards called on their World Cup final lineout move and the result was the same with prop Luke Woodcock crossing for the try.

Another superb piece of play from Savea, as the All Blacks moved quick ball following a Dagg break, to fire a perfect pass to lock Luke Romano on the sideline for him to score New Zealand's third try.

Welsh wing Liam Williams might have had minimal warning of his place in the side but he made his mark with some fine tackling and good support play. Fullback Leigh Halfpenny always looked assured with the ball in hand without getting the best opportunities. Centre Jonathan Davies made one scything break from within his own 22m area.

Captain Sam Warburton looked to make the most of chances in the loose but too often was battling on his own.

In the 56th minute replacement wing Scott Williams scored his side's first try from a lineout drive in which almost all the Welsh team were involved to get over.

New Zealand lost Jane when he was ruled to have deliberately knocked down a pass in a Welsh move, but it only seemed to give the All Blacks more determination after they had made several substitutions. However, they were unable to add to the score and it was Wales who mounted the pressure with some sustained running which saw wing Alex Cuthbert over in the corner.

He had another fine run moments later but was shadowed to the sideline where Dagg made a fine tackle.

Scorers:

Wales 10 (Scott Williams, Alex Cuthbert tries) New Zealand 33 (Liam Messam, Luke Woodcock, Luke Romano tries; Aaron Cruden 3 con, 4 pen). HT: 0-23