In the end, the match that no one wanted wasn’t short on its entertainment value but the pity for Wales – who were seeking a first win over the All Blacks since 1953 in Warren Gatland’s last match in charge – was that the frills mostly came from New Zealand who went on to clinch the World Cup bronze medal with a comfortable 40-17 win in Tokyo.


Despite making a multitude of changes to freshen up a Welsh XV that had a day less to recover from its semi-final defeat, Gatland’s side damagingly looked leggy for periods of this six tries to two defeat. 

They did exhibit some gas and enjoyed creativity when recovering from a tentative start, reducing the 14-point deficit that was registered by the 13th minute to just four points by the 27th minute.

However, they ultimately slipped off too many first-half tackles. Twenty-one were missed in a low 72 per cent tackle success rate (53/74) and the concession of two tries in the lead up to the interval – followed by another quickly in the second half – meant there was no comeback from a worrying 35-10 situation. 

A never-say-die attitude did manage to stem the onslaught and they had the fillip of Josh Adams getting over for his seventh try of the finals. 

(Continue reading below…)


But even then it was New Zealand who had the last say, Richie Mo’unga scoring to round off the victory for the departing Steve Hansen in his sideline battle with fellow Kiwi Gatland. Here’s how RugbyPass rated the Welsh performance: 

15. Hallam Amos – 6/10 

Demonstrated an appetite for a good carry and beating a defender, a contribution highlighted by one canter after Wales had fallen 0-7 behind. He then popped up to excellently finish for Wales’ only first-half try. Wasn’t immune to errors, though. There were some missed tackles and his kick-out on the full on 50 minutes was another example. 

14. Owen Lane – 4


With most of the first-half action going on away from him, his restricted carry was compounded by some missed tackles when the play did come his way. Showed up more in the second half but by then the damage was done for Wales. 

13. Jonathan Davies – 4

First-half passed him by as he was rather anonymous on both sides of the ball. Same could be largely said for the second-half also. Simply wasn’t the Davies who had been so prominent at these finals. 

12. Owen Watkin – 5

Initially provided a bit of muscle in this role and mostly kept Sonny Bill Williams quiet until near the end of a first-half when the Kiwi opened up a box of tricks that also saw him provide the assist for the fifth try following the interval. Watkin did make some good yardage in traffic but it wasn’t enough and he was gone for Hadleigh Parkes on 62 minutes.  

11. Josh Adams – 8 

The star Welsh contributor. He ran like the breeze and did so many things efficiently and effectively. Agonisingly short of a try on 16 minutes, but he showed his easy-on-the-eye fluency with a delightful catch to prevent a Mo’unga penalty touch finder going out of play. A 51st minute pass that failed to find Justin Tipuric showed his frustration but that was alleviated eight minutes later with his well-finished pick-and-go try.  

10. Rhys Patchell – 5

Mixed bag from the out-half who struggles to fully convince at this level. One early soft dropped pass contributed to the sense of unease in the Welsh performance and while it was his fabulous slick pass that got Amos in for his 19th-minute try, the meek manner in which he was blasted away and possession turned over at a ruck for the third New Zealand try was more in keeping with his effort. Exited on 47 minutes for Dan Biggar with Wales 35-10 down. 

9. Tomos Williams – 5 

Provided welcome energy with the ball, mixing up his passing with a hunger to have a cut and make some yardage. What let him down was his tackling, a shortcoming epitomised when he was handed off in the face by Ben Smith for New Zealand’s fourth try. Hooked for Gareth Davies on 47 minutes.  

1. Nicky Smith – 5 

Will have enjoyed the Welsh scrum overly doing okay in the opening half. One of his pack’s busiest tacklers, it was lack of a carry that left him down as illustrated by what his opposite number Joe Moody managed in his try-scoring effort. Was gone from the fray for Rhys Carre as soon as New Zealand scored their fifth try.    

2. Ken Owens – 4 

Looked tired and off the pace. Fell off too many tackles, including one early in the move for New Zealand’s second try. It was also his needless concession of a penalty at a ruck that provided the Kiwis the possession and territory to hatch their fourth try. Lost throw at start of second half then gave then opposition the impetus for fifth try. It was his last act. 

3. Dillon Lewis – 5  

Showed good attitude while he was on. Led a good scrum platform and was eager to pop up and carry. What left him down was his missed tackles. 

4. Adam Beard – 4

Left completely in the shade by the contribution of his opposite number, Brodie Retallick. He bought the switch play that resulted in Beauden Barrett’s uninterrupted run to the try line for New Zealand’s second try. Briefly improved when Wales rallied but wasn’t up to the level here. 

5. Alun Wyn Jones – 7

Showed influential leadership by opting not to kick penalties and instead direct them to touch with Wales down by 14 points in the early stages. Was rewarded with a ten-point surge but that was as good as it got. Huge contribution with his tackling and was the deserved recipient of a standing ovation when taken off on 56 minutes.    

6. Justin Tipuric – 5

Was busy but his effort lacked the necessary precision that Wales greatly needed. An example of that was a sloppy transfer of ball off the top following a lineout catch near the end of the first half. Had a better second period, lifting the pressure with an excellent break on 55 minutes. 

7. James Davies – 6

He topped the Welsh tackle chart but will rue the miss where he was left flailing when Ben Smith cantered to the line to score in the first half. Offered himself in the carry but his best moments were about trying to stop New Zealand.   

8. Ross Moriarty – 4

Poor effort from the No8 was encapsulated by how he allowed lineout ball slip through his hands with the score balanced at 10-14 and Wales on a gallop after being 14 points down. Eventually pulled just seven minutes into the second half for Aaron Shingler. 

WATCH: Jamie Roberts sits down with RugbyPass in this episode of Rugby World Cup Memories 

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