Ruthless All Blacks destroy Wales with eight tries

Wales thought it had its best shot against New Zealand in ages.

Then referee Wayne Barnes blew for kickoff with the whistle from the first matchup in 1905 and a familiar script unfolded.

New Zealand won 55-23, answering every question Wales posed with relentless power and precision before a packed Principality Stadium.

The All Blacks notched their 33rd straight win against Wales, which last took this contest in 1953.

The visitors flew to 17-0 after only 18 minutes then Wales began to make a game of it.

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They closed within six points twice in the third quarter only to see New Zealand hit back immediately both times through tries by halfback Aaron Smith and surge away in the last quarter.

Smith, Codie Taylor and Jordie Barrett scored two tries each among their team’s eight as New Zealand posted its highest score against Wales in Cardiff, one point more than they scored last year.

“We didn’t expect that,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster said.

“We came here last year and had a bit more razzle-dazzle in the last 20-30 minutes. This year, I just loved the efficiency of how we went about it. We didn’t try and overplay our hand. They put a lot of pressure on us and that didn’t fluster us. We stuck at that close-quarter battle.”

The All Blacks were clinical at the Welsh end and enjoyed an immense effort from No.8 Ardie Savea.

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He and Smith, who gave his best performance of the year, have said Wales’ home is their favorite stadium and they were inspired.

New Zealand’s fear factor was doubted after the team squeaked past Japan last weekend in Tokyo, but the team was bolstered by the availability of the three Barrett brothers, new tour captain Sam Whitelock and Rieko Ioane and was back to near full strength.

They started impressively in Cardiff.

Taylor’s two opening tries came as the pack hammered the Welsh try-line.

The All Blacks led 17-0 when Wales executed a planned move off lineout ball for winger Rio Dyer to score on debut.

Dyer was then brought to earth when Jordie Barrett, 10cm taller than Dyer, leaped higher than the Welshman to catch Richie Mo’unga’s crossfield kick and touch down.

A third successive goalkick by Wales’ Gareth Anscombe — at fullback after the late injury withdrawal of Leigh Halfpenny — had them trailing 22-13 at the break and somewhat relieved.

Another Anscombe penalty kick closed the gap to 22-16 but Smith conjured a try from the back of a ruck when he darted between two Wales forwards and stepped Louis Rees-Zammit to glide over the line.

Wales was quick to reply when a Tomos Williams chip was dropped by both leaping five-eighths and new captain Justin Tipuric gathered and scored beside the posts.

Wales was back within six again and New Zealand struck quickly again.

Savea sold Wales prop Nicky Smith a huge dummy and burst to the line where he offloaded for Smith to score his second try.

“I’m just trying to have fun,” Savea said.

“My job is to put a smile on people’s faces and that’s my mindset.”

Given a safe margin again on the scoreboard, the New Zealand forwards outmuscled Wales to set up late tries for Savea, Jordie Barrett and replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho.

In between, Anscombe charged down opposite Beauden Barrett and was haring to the left corner.

But Mo’unga dragged him down from behind and into touch to prevent the try.

Anscombe slapped the field in frustration. It was a familiar feeling for Wales.

“You give them a sniff and they take all the points,” Tipuric said.

New Zealand 55 (Codie Taylor 2, Aaron Smith 2, Jordie Barrett 2, Ardie Savea, Samisoni Tau’keiaho tries; Richie Mo’unga 4 conversions, penalty, Beauden Barrett 2 conversions) Wales 23 (Rio Dyer, Justin Tipuric tries; Gareth Anscombe 2 conversions, 3 penalties). excluding tax: 22-13

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