New Zealand 39-21 Wales: All Blacks come from behind to secure win against Wales
New Zealand came from behind to overcome Wales 39-21 at Eden Park
Tries from Julian Savea, Waisake Naholo (2), Kieran Read and Nathan Harris secured the All Blacks victory
Taulupe Faletau and Rhys Webb had touched down to give Warren Gatland’s side an unexpected 18-15 lead at half-time
Kieran Read started his reign as New Zealand captain with victory but the All Blacks were made to work for their 39-21 defeat of Wales.
The brave and bold visitors led by three points going into the final quarter but a late flourish from the hosts ensured they began life without Richie McCaw and Dan Carter with a win.
The opening 40 was an incredible example of counter-attacking play at its finest with four magnificent tries split evenly at two apiece.
Taulupe Faletau had crashed over to give Wales an early lead, but Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo’s quickfire scores for the All Blacks soon after put the hosts 15-5 ahead. The reliable Dan Biggar then slotted two penalties for the visitors to close the gap before he converted Rhys Webb’s try to give Warren Gatland’s side an unexpected 18-15 lead at the break.
Aaron Cruden and Biggar traded penalties early in the second half before Naholo’s second try gave the world champions a slender four-point advantage with 15 minutes left on the clock. Skipper Kieran Read and Nathan Harris then crossed for New Zealand’s fourth and fifth tries as the hosts new generation secured a 39-21 in their first outing.
Fly-half Aaron Cruden, who hit the post with his first attempt at goal, opened the scoring after four minutes to settle the All Blacks nerves with a routine penalty from in front of the posts.
Wales replied in superb fashion though as powerhouse Taulupe Faletau went over for the game’s opening try soon after. Fantastic continuity from Wales saw them work the ball from right to left before the back-rower crashed over in the corner. Dan Biggar couldn’t add the difficult touchline conversion, 3-5.
The hosts replied instantly when speedster Julien Savea leaped to claim Cruden’s pinpoint crossfield kick following a fantastic team move after 14 minutes. Cruden pulled his conversion attempt wide of the mark.
Three minutes later Waisake Naholo finished off a dazzling length of the field move and this time Cruden converted to push New Zealand, in a blink of an eye, 10 points clear, 15-5.
Biggar then slotted a pair of three-pointers for Wales before scrum-half Rhys Webb slid over the whitewash just after the half hour following an incredible initial break and offload from fullback Liam Williams. The Welsh number 10 then converted to give the visitors a shock 18-15 lead at the break
After the restart, Cruden levelled things up with a simple kick from in front of the posts before Biggar reestablished wales narrow lead with a three-pointer of his own, 18-21.
The world champions though finally retook the lead just after the hour as Naholo took advantage of Aaron Smith’s quick tap and go to bulldoze his way over to the left of the posts. Cruden then converted to give the hosts a slender four-point advantage.
New Zealand then secured victory through their skipper Kieran Read, who dived over between the posts following some great ball retention from the hosts.
A final flourish then saw Nathan Harris dive over in the corner for the All Blacks fifth try. Cruden added the extras to both scores to complete the games scoring, 39-21.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Seta Tamanivalu
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Scott Williams
Date: Saturday, June 11
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Will Houston (Australia)