venue: Wembley Stadium, London
5th November 2011
Full Match Report
GILLETTE 4 NATIONS – GAME 3
New Zealand got their Four Nations defence back on track with a seven-try win over Wales at Wembley. The Kiwis needed a big score to increase their Grand Final chances after losing against New Zealand
Sika Manu and Gerard Beale claimed two tries, with Kevin Locke, Nathan Fien and Jason Nightingale also crossing. But significantly New Zealand failed to better England's points total from the week before, who again put their bodies bravely on the line.
After their opening 42-4 defeat by England last weekend, Wales might have been expected to concentrate on the basics early on. But after receiving the kick-off, Iestyn Harris' side failed to complete even their first set as an over-ambitious pass saw Elliot Kear spill the ball and gift possession away. New Zealand wasted no time in threatening the Welsh line and only some committed defence held up Benji Marshall as he went for the try.
But the Kiwis maintained their stranglehold and Marshall stabbed through a kick for Nightingale to gather and score the opener, although Marshall missed the conversion from wide on the right.
Wales were unable to make any headway thanks to some good kick-chase by New Zealand and were forced into a series of drop-outs from under their own posts.
Jordan James, who had been knocked cold in the opening moments against England last week, showed up well in defence for Wales but they were having to fend off waves of New Zealand attacks. A second Kiwi try soon followed as Thomas Leuluai and Marshall conjured an out-in passing move to usher full-back Locke over for an unconverted score.
Wales at last broke out of their own half and put together a good set to take them within sniffing distance of the New Zealand line, but Lee Briers' pass just failed to find Tyson Frizell and the chance was gone.
New Zealand marched back upfield - with Leuluai continuing to orchestrate beautifully from dummy-half - and Manu took advantage of some poor defence, pushing off three tacklers to barge over, Marshall this time converting for a 14-0 lead.
The defensive shift Wales were putting in inevitably started to take its toll, with Frizell and Rhys Williams both having to go to the sidelines for treatment. But that did not stop the men in red from conjuring another chance to open their scoring account, although Ian Webster failed to grab Briers' grubber into the in-goal area.
The now familiar pattern of New Zealand marching back up the length of the field to score continued. This time Marshall opted for the aerial route to crack the Welsh defence, launching an up-and-under that was knocked back for Manu to claim his second try.
A fifth New Zealand try arrived before the break, when Marshall switched play to the blindside and Alex Glenn brushed off Briers to send Brisbane team-mate Beale romping over for his first Test try.
With Marshall converting both scores, New Zealand had a healthy 26-0 lead at half-time as they chased a big score to put pressure on other Four Nations rivals Australia and England. But if a procession of New Zealand tries was expected after the restart Wales had other ideas, and Christiaan Roets and Craig Kopzcak put in some eye-catching hits to disrupt the black shirts.
With Wales five-eighth Briers again showing his class kicking for territory, that was enough to keep New Zealand at bay until the 61st minute. Leuluai was again the creator, the Wigan half-back firing a miss-pass in front of two team-mates to find Beale lurking in space on the left touchline.
Despite being under minimal pressure in defence, New Zealand's discipline was sometimes lacking and a series of offside infringements gave Wales another sight of the line. Again Wales' overeagerness got the better of them and Gil Dudson left the ball behind as the Crusaders prop attempted to crash through.
With five minutes remaining Leuluai engineered a seventh try, bursting between two tacklers to send Fien on his way under the posts with the help of a nifty step inside. Wales ended a hugely encouraging half on the offensive but could not find their way over for the score a gallant performance deserved.
Jones, Kear, Webster, Roets, R Williams, Briers, White, J James, Budworth, Dudson, Frizell, Beasley, Flower, Watson, Bracek, Divorty, Kopczak.
Locke, Beale, Brown, Glenn, Nightingale, Marshall, Foran, McKendry, Leuluai, Matulino, Manu, Blair, Smith, Fien, Waerea-Hargreaves, Moimoi, Taylor