New Zealand are one win away from a fourth Grand Slam after hard fought victory in Dublin.
|John Afoa scores his try as New Zealand wrap up a successful November Test series in Wales [AFP]|
The All Blacks tied up their November tour by defeating Wales 37-25 to seal their fourth Grand Slam against home nations on Saturday.
New Zealand winger Hosea Gear scored two tries and flyhalf Dan Carter broke Test rugby’s points-scoring record as the All Blacks out-scored the Welsh by five tries to one in Cardiff.
It was not New Zealand’s most convincing performance of their European tour but the world’s No.1-ranked side maintained their 57-year unbeaten run against the Welsh to seal a triumphant November with previous wins over England (26-16), Scotland (49-3) and Ireland (38-18).
Gear went over in the fifth and 53rd minutes, while fullback Mils Muliaina, right winger Isaia Toeava and replacement prop John Afoa scored the tourists’ other tries. Carter landed five of nine kicks, with his first successful attempt – a penalty in the eighth minute – seeing him overtake Jonny Wilkinson in the all-time scoring list.
Gear crossed the line in the fifth minute when Sonny Bill Williams fed Isaia Toeava coming off his right wing. Toeava surged through as the Welsh defence held off and lobbed a pass to Gear who scored a simple try in the corner.
Muliaina was the next to cross the Welsh line after Carter completely fooled the Welsh defenders by jogging at half pace, then accelerating suddenly to feed the fullback who raced through on the inside against some more flimsy Welsh defending.
Stephen Jones kept Wales within touch in the first 40 minutes with three penalties which restricted the All Blacks to a 13-9 lead at half time despite their overall superiority.
Wales enjoyed their best passage of play just after the break with centre Tom Shanklin twice bursting through the first line of defenders.
New Zealand’s replacement number eight Daniel Braid was sent to the sinbin after deliberately holding on to the ball on the ground for the second successive time and Jones narrowed the gap to one point with a simple penalty.
|Results & fixtures|
Saturday November 27
England 11-21 South Africa
But New Zealand were not to be denied. Conrad Smith wrestled a path through the Welsh defenders and fed his centre partner Ma’a Nonu who had replaced Williams. Nonu linked with captain Richie McCaw and the ball went to Gear who raced over in the corner.
Jones slotted two further penalties before New Zealand put the game beyond reach when Welsh fullback Lee Bryne failed to clear near his line and the ball went through forwards Brad Thorn and replacement Anthony Boric to Toeava who crossed to score.
Replacement prop John Afoa rubbed salt in Welsh wounds with an easy try. Byrne glided over in the left corner for a late consolation try in a winless month for the hosts.
In earlier games, world champions South Africa reaffirmed their World Cup credentials with a bruising 21-11 win over England at Twickenham and Mirco Bergamasco’s flawless place kicking helped Italy battle back from a woeful first half to beat Fiji 24-16.