by Richard Early
THE All Blacks secured third place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup by defeating Wales 40-17 at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.
Steve Hansen made seven changes to the side that lost to England in the semi-final, while Warren Gatland made nine from Wales’ semi-final defeat to South Africa.
Before the national anthems were played, a moment of silence was held for the more than 70 lives lost from Typhoon Hagibis.
New Zealand got off to a terrific start and were awarded a penalty after three minutes, due to Nicky Smith not moving away. Richie Mo’unga stepped up and from just outside the 22-metre area at a slight angle, he struck the right post.
Two minutes later, the All Blacks opened the scoring through Joe Moody’s try. Brodie Retallick broke away, before producing a backhand pass to the prop, who stormed over from just outside the 22-metre area. From a similar position to the missed penalty – Mo-unga converted.
— ラグビーワールドカップ (@rugbyworldcupjp) November 1, 2019
The current world champions scored a second try with 13 minutes played. Aaron Smith superbly switched to Beauden Barrett, who sped over and touched down just outside the right post. Mo-unga converted from infront of the posts.
Wales got their first points of the encounter two minutes later – as Rhys Patchell simply converted a penalty from practically in front of the posts.
Shortly after, Wales came close to scoring a try and reducing the deficit further, but Sonny Bill Williams held-up Dillon Lewis.
Although, they did score a try just before the 20-minute mark. Fly-half Patchell’s long pass left found Hallam Amos and he produced a wonderful finish, stepping inside and darting over. Patchell converted from an acute angle.
Wales were awarded another penalty in front of the posts after 26 minutes and No. 10 Patchell added the three points.
Despite the deficit being reduced, New Zealand increased it with eight minutes of the opening 40 remaining. From Aaron Smith’s pass, Ben Smith superbly stepped inside twice, shrugging off a range of tackles before touching down and Mo-unga converted.
As the first-half entered last play, the All Blacks gained another try. Aaron Smith passed to Ben Smith again and he fended off Tomos Williams prior to securing a brace in his final appearance for his nation – by scoring in the corner. Mo-unga produced a wonderful conversion kick from just off the side-line.
Following the interval, it took two minutes for Ryan Crotty to score his side’s fifth try. 34-year-old Williams delivered a one-handed offload to his fellow centre and he scored, prior to Mo-unga converting again.
Ben Smith thought he had his hat-trick after 48 minutes, but the TMO ruled it out due to the flick-on from Rieko Ioane travelling forward.
On the hour mark, Wales added their second try of the game, as Josh Adams picked and went from a few metres out and scored. Substitute Dan Biggar added the extra two from an angle.
The All Blacks had the final say and it was fly-half Mo-unga who sealed the try by working his way through the Welsh defence. Mo-unga missed the conversion and no further points were added for the remainder, as New Zealand finished third at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
If there's any consolation – or meaning – to 'bronze' matches, it's the goodbyes.
Well done Steve Hansen, Warren Gatland, Kieran Read, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams.
— Will Kelleher (@willgkelleher) November 1, 2019
Full-Time: New Zealand 40-17 Wales
New Zealand:Beauden Barrett; Ben Smith, Crotty, Williams, Ioane; Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Moody, Coles, Laulala, Retallick, Scott Barrett, Frizell, Cane, Read.
Replacements: Coltman, Moli, Ta’avao, Tuipulotu, Todd, Weber, Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett.
Wales: Amos; Lane, Jonathan Davies, Watkin, Adams; Patchell, Williams; Smith, Owens, Lewis; Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Tipuric, James Davies, Moriarty.
Replacements: Dee, Carre, Wyn Jones, Ball, Shingler, Gareth Davies, Biggar, Parkes.