All Blacks come storming back to overcome Wales challenge

All Blacks come storming back to overcome Wales challenge
Fly-half Aaron Cruden scored four successful conversions and two penalties for the All Blacks as they defeated Wales by 39-21 at Eden Park on Saturday.
©Press Association

New Zealand 39 - 21 Wales, Eden Park

The All Blacks scored three impressive tries in the second half to overcome Wales' half-time three points lead to register a 39-21 victory at Eden Park on Saturday.

The home side lost an early scoring opportunity on the very second minute of the game as Aaron Cruden failed to score a penalty. However, the fly-half compensated for the mistake on the fifth minute as Wales conceded a penalty from contact after the drop out.

With the home side as expected early on the board, Wales launched an impressive counterattack.

A costly spill from All Blacks fullback Ben Smith on the eight minute resulted into an opportunity for the visitors as Wales wing duo Hallam Amos and George North helped put number 8 Toby Faletau over the tryline to open their account. Fly-half Dan Biggar failed to make the conversion from a tough right flank angle.

The All Blacks came back charging in the game as Cruden's chip kick into space on the left wing was seized by wing Julian Savea who beat North to collect the ball and score a touch down. Cruden however failed to make the conversion keeping the score intact at 8-5.

Before the visitors could recover from Savea's try, the All Blacks went on to register another one on the 18th minute as Smith collected a high ball outside his 22 and burned through the defence to feed the ball to Cruden who passed it on to wing Waisake Naholo who touched down unopposed.

Cruden nailed the conversion to put his side ahead by 10 points.

Wales however were handed over an opportunity on the 21st minute to make a comeback in the game by the New Zealand defense line who were caught offside. Biggar ensured he added three points to his team's tally.

Another penalty opportunity was handed over to Wales on the 26th minute as hooker Dane Coles was caught offside. Biggar brought down the trail to four points with another successful kick.

The All Blacks' attempt to score a try on the 27th minute was foiled by Wales centre Jonathan Davies and North with a crucial turnover.

Naholo spoiled another opportunity for the home side on the 29th minute. Some smart work from Smith and centre Malakai Fekitoa allowed Naholo to burn past Amos, however, the winger bombed the prospect to score a try by holding on to the ball instead of passing it to the free support runners.

Wales successfully created a try scoring opportunity for themselves on the 31st minute as fullback Liam Williams after collecting a high ball in his own half, stepped inside locks to clean through and fed it to scrum-half Rhys Webb who went on to make the touch down. Biggar added the extras as Wales took a crucial three points lead.

The scoreline 15-18 did not change in the remaining nine minutes of the first half as New Zealand managed to hold back another Wales burst at the penultimate minute as scrum-half Aaron Smith managed to find touch after a 5-meter line-out.

The All Blacks started strong in the second half by putting the ball through phases, however, a poor pass by Smith resulted into a knock-on as another opportunity was lost on the 42nd minute.

The home side made its first substitution on the 43rd minute as they brought Beaden Barrett at fullback with Smith replacing Savea at wing.

Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones went off for a concussion test after a hefty knock on the 45th minute.

Cruden equalized the scoreline by successfully scoring a penalty on the 48th minute.

New Zealand lock Luke Romano was penalized for tackling the lineout jumper in the air on the 49th minute, however, Biggar failed to score the penalty to the left from outside of the 22.

Jones returned back on the 51st minute as Biggar nailed a penalty on the 53rd minute to put the visitors ahead once again by three points.

On the 62nd minute, New Zealand ignored a goal attempt after a 5m line-out advantage, as Smith fed it to Naholo with a quick tap, who ran straight past Biggar to register his second try of the game.

Cruden added the extras with a successful conversion as the home side now took a crucial four points lead with 17 minutes left on the clock.

On 67th minute, the All Blacks skipper and number 8 Kieran Read crossed over the try line after going around the ruck aided by Smith and replacement Patrick Tuipulotu. Cruden added two more to the home side's tally as they completely took control of the game.

The Wales appeared to have run out of gas as basic errors under pressure resulted in another opportunity for the All Blacks as TJ Perenara crossed over for another try on the 71st minute. However, referee Wayne Barnes overruled TMO George Ayoub for a forward pass. The decision appeared controversial which ensued boos from the disappointed crowd.

Another try was disallowed on the very next minute, this time for Faletau as the back-rower was a long way in front of the kicker before chasing the ball and scoring a touch down.

The All Blacks looked all set for another try scoring opportunity at the penultimate minute of the second half, however, a timely tackle by Amos on Naholo stopped their progress halfway inside Wales 22 with less than a minute left on the clock.

The All Blacks replacements put up a stunning show in the concluding minutes with Seta Temaniavalu busting through the cutback in the first phase of the attack from the scrum as the front-rowers combined great hands to help Nathan Harris go over in the corner.

Cruden scored the fourth and the final conversion of the match as the scoreline ended 39-21.

Although the All Blacks came out as the ultimate convincing winners from the contest, the scoreline does not tell the story of the game from the Wales' view point.

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