May 20, 2013
Cruden immaculate in New Zealand win over Wales
World champions New Zealand ruthlessly exposed Wales's frailties with a 33-10 victory at the Millennium stadium today underpinned by an immaculate display of place kicking from replacement flyhalf Aaron Cruden.
Cruden, a late substitute for Dan Carter, the world's best standoff who withdrew on Friday evening with an injury to his right leg, converted each of his kicks for a total of 18 points.
The win extended the All Blacks' unbeaten sequence to 20 while European champions Wales, who completed a third Six Nations grand slam in seven years last March, have now lost six matches in a row.
Cruden's composed performance and flawless kicking was in sharp contrast to the display of his opposite number Rhys Priestland, who now seems bereft of the confidence and form he showed at last year's World Cup.
Priestland twice kicked penalties dead over the All Blacks line, gifting the ball straight back to them, while Wales also mystifyingly spurned two kicks at goal early in the first half which Leigh Halfpenny could have converted into six points.
They did outscore the All Blacks by two tries to one after the break, but New Zealand already had the game won with 23 unanswered points at the interval and were soon giving their replacements a run before next Saturday's final match of their November tour against England.
Left wing Julian Savea, the world's leading try-scorer this year, atoned for an early knock-on with two flashes of brilliance in New Zealand's first try scored by blindside flanker Liam Messam.
Savea leaped high to tip a Priestland up-and-under back to Israel Dagg then held on brilliantly to a low, fast return pass after the fullback had broken the Welsh line.
When the move broke down near the Welsh line the ball was quickly recycled right to Messam to stroll over for the try.
All three tries went to the forwards with prop Tony Woodcock scoring his eighth international try and lock Luke Romano his first. Woodcock's was a replica of his try in the 8-7 win in the World Cup final against France last year when he thundered through a gap in the middle of the lineout.