New Zealand 19 Wales 12
Wales will pose a significant threat to the Wallabies in three weeks time after bravely going down to the All Blacks at Millennium Stadium this morning.
If you think losing seven consecutive matches to the All Blacks has become a psychological issue for the Wallabies, spare a thought for the Welsh boyos who haven’t won against them since 1953.
You know, the year that Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing climbed Mt Everest and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place.
Actually it was the Queen’s grandson Prince William who was the guest of honour at the game today. I’d guess he’d much rather have been at Twickers with his lager lout brother and sometimes girlfriend Chelsy Davy than mixing with all these Taff Alickadoos.
He looked about as comfortable as a bomb disposal expert at a Taliban checkpoint.
It was Guy Fawkes Day this week in Wales and Alun-Wyn Jones could have actually had the crown without having to blow anybody up.
Unfortunately, he stuffed up the pass in the dying moments of the game and will have to wait until next year for another crack at martyrdom.
Makes light of the George Gregan ‘4 more years’ comment (’57 more years Dai’).
The day started well with a poignant Remembrance Day Last Post and moment’s silence followed by the Taffs drowning out the haka (yawn) thingy.
Land of My Fathers is without doubt the best national anthem ever, especially when it’s sung by 74,000 fanatical boyos.
There’s some ‘girt by sea’ stuff in the lyrics to overcome but I guess you wouldn’t know that as it’s sung in Taff. ‘Gool-ard, gool-ard, ply-dee-ol oiv eem gool-ard’……..inspirational.
Talking about the green, green grass of home. Hopefully Tucky didn’t see the telecast because the turf at the Millenium Stadium was so unstable he’d be straight on the blower to WorkCover to submit a health and safety claim.
It was so bad the divet brigade was out there at halftime with their buckets picking up the flotsam and jetsam. It was like Trooper Smith and his dung bucket after Horse Guards Parade.
Craig Joubert was the referee today. Yes, I’ve got a long memory. He was out there buggering it up for all concerned as well. Oh well, its a dirty job and some bastard has got to do it.
This was a pretty entertaining match with a fair bit of tension, especially towards the end. The Welsh were very competitive in the first half with the score at 6 – 6 at the break, Jones and Carter having traded a few penalties.
The Taffs had brought along their running game but didn’t really achieve that much success. They had difficulty getting over the gain line due to excellent All Black defence.
They couldn’t put substantial points on the board with the 60% of possession they had in the half. Their lineout was effective but the scrums were always under pressure.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks would kick the ball back to them. I think they ran it twice in the half, with a ‘potential’ try to Leonard declined by the Taff TMO – I assume he was Taff ‘cos his name was Hughes.
It looked to me like Leonard knocked on as he had tried to pick up and dive over from a ruck.
In the second half the game freed up a little as the All Blacks ratcheted it up. Hooker Hore scored in the corner, the only try of the match and Carter converted.
There were two other occasions where the All Blacks crossed the line only for the TMO to decline the try. After a few more penalties to both sides the score reached 19 – 12.
That’s when the Welsh really got back in the game and in the last 10 minutes they were frequently attacking the All Black line.
The best opportunity was the Wyn-Jones intercept, where he ran about 50m flat chat. As he ran out of puff and tried to pass to his support, new All Black Zac Guildford snaffled him and forced the error.
Dan Carter smashed replacement half Martin Roberts with a swinging arm tackle late in the piece but the referee and touchies must have missed it. Otherwise, I suspect he’d be doing porridge on the sideline.
The crowd took it upon themselves to give Dan a pasting every time he came on-screen or featured with the ball. The Citing Commissioner will no doubt adjudicate.
For the All Blacks Brad Thorn, Kieran Reid and of course Richie McCaw starred in the forwards with Conrad Smith, Mils Muiliaina and Cory Jane the standout backs. Dan Carter was again the master of ceremonies and in my view the Man of the Match.
For Wales, Shane Williams seemed back to his dynamic best and Jamie Roberts was always dangerous with a little space. I really like their Lions hooker Matthew Rees who does a power of work and Andy Powell was all aggression.
The Welsh do not have a psychological issue with the Wallabies. They’ll be smelling blood from last year and will run the ball at us from depth and width.
We’ll need to present our No 1 game to beat them.
Pens: S Jones 4
For New Zealand:
Pens: Carter 4
Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Ryan Jones (c), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Alun-Wyn Jones, 3 Paul James, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Reserves: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Dafydd Jones, 20 Martin Roberts, 21 Jonathan Davies, 22 Tom James.
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Brendan Leonard, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Ben Smith.