New Zealand hammer Wales, win bronze at Rugby World Cup
• South Africa, England In Epic Final Today
Warren Gatland’s 12-year reign in charge of Wales ended with a 40-17 defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup bronze match in Tokyo yesterday.
Steve Hansen ensured he left the All Blacks on a winning note as his side clinched third place in Japan with a six-try display.
South Africa will face England in the final today.
In yesterday’s third place match, Wing Ben Smith scored two tries and Joe Moody, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty and Richie Mo’unga also crossed.
New Zealand demonstrated a more ruthless edge, with Wales not capitalising on territory and possession superiority.
Defence coach Shaun Edwards will also be unhappy at Wales missing more than 30 tackles.
Wales’ defeat ensured a second fourth-place World Cup overall finish to emulate their position in 2011, with their third place in 1987 remaining the finest effort.
Their losing streak against the All Blacks remains at 66 years, with New Zealand celebrating a 31st successive win in this fixture.
Wales and New Zealand would both have preferred to have been involved in the final but those dreams were dashed after semi-final defeats against South Africa and England.
So it was more sentiment than silverware at stake in Tokyo.
Gatland bowed out after 12 years in charge, a period in which Wales have won four Six Nations titles – including three Grand Slams – and reached two World Cup semi-finals.
Hansen stepped up from his assistant role to take over from Graham Henry after the 2011 World Cup success and guided the All Blacks to retain their title four years later.
Following the five-day turnaround, Wales only had 26 fit players to pick from and made nine changes from the South Africa defeat.
Some were enforced through injuries, with George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Aaron Wainwright, Tomas Francis joining Liam Williams, Josh Navidi and Cory Hill on the sidelines.
Replacement Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane was handed the 14 shirt, while half-backs Rhys Patchell and Tomos Williams started.
New Zealand made seven personnel alterations and were led by number eight Kieran Read who was making his 127th and last international appearance.
They could still name an experienced and star-studded backline that included Sonny Bill Williams, Crotty, Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith.
Wales did not follow England’s lead with any quirky reaction to the New Zealand haka, respecting it from the comfort of their own 10-metre line.
A frantic opening included a huge hit from Shannon Frizell on Ross Moriarty, a searing Adams break and a penalty turnover from Sam Cane.
Mo’unga hit the posts with a penalty but inspired the opening score with a half-break before releasing Read, who found Brodie Retallick to send prop Moody over for the opening score. Mo’unga converted.
Scrum-half Aaron Smith turned creator as his scissors move with Beauden Barrett allowed the full-back to coast through the Welsh defence under the posts.
Wales almost responded immediately as prop Dillon Lewis was held up over the New Zealand line.
But it was not long until full-back Amos crossed following a patient build-up and a raking Patchell pass.
Patchell also converted before adding a penalty to reduce the deficit to 14-10 as Wales threatened to bounce back.
New Zealand retaliated and showed Wales how to be clinical with two tries for wing Smith just before half-time.
First a strong counter-ruck allowed Smith to power through some weak tackling.
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