All Blacks sign off in style

By Jamie Wall

Rieko Ioane performs the haka

The All Blacks said goodbye to a host of big names tonight, in an entertaining end to their World Cup campaign. They beat Wales 40-17 in the bronze final in Tokyo, in a game that featured eight tries.

The All Blacks made an electric start to the game after a Kieran Read-led haka, after Richie Mo’unga had hit the post with a penalty attempt they won the ball back and attacked the midfield. Read and Brodie Retallick combined to go through a big gap, with Retallick feeding none other than Joe Moody to rumble 25 metres downfield to score.

In the 13th minute the All Blacks doubled their lead, when Aaron Smith slid across field from a strong Dane Coles run, before finding Beauden Barrett on a sweet cut back. The fullback had too much pace and ran in under the posts.

However, that woke the Welsh up. They took a lineout instead of an easy shot at goal, and were rewarded for their bravery with a try to fullback Hallam Amos. Rhys Patchell converted and the game continued on in its entertaining way throughout the first half, with both sides intent on keeping the ball in hand. Patchell then made it 14-10 with a penalty in front of the posts in the 27th minute.

The game lost a bit of its shape from there, but a strongman by Liam Coleman, who was on for the injured Dane Coles, set up an opportunity for the All Blacks to attack again. Quick ball saw Ben Smith cut back towards the posts and burst through two tacklers to score the All Blacks’ third try.

Just as the hooter went for halftime, the two Smiths combined for a try that put the All Blacks even further ahead. Aaron threaded a beautiful long pass out to Ben, who palmed off Welsh halfback Tomos Williams to score in the corner. Mo’unga nailed the conversion and the teams went to the sheds with the score at 28-10.

They didn’t let up after the break either, with Sonny Bill Williams popping a perfect offload to send Ryan Crotty over after only three minutes from the resumption. While that try put the result out of doubt, Wales didn’t roll over and die. They strung together a number of impressive phases to eventually get close enough to the line for replacement halfback Gareth Davies to dive over and score a try.

After both sides emptied their benches, the game got sloppy again, and it took until the 75th minute for Mo’unga to dive over in the corner off a dominant All Black scrum.

The All Blacks’ World Cup campaign is now over, as is the careers of Steve Hansen, Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith. Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones also played his last game, while coach Warren Gatland now moves on to coach the Chiefs next year.

All Blacks 40 (B Smith 2, J Moody, B Barrett, R Crotty, R Mo’unga tries; Mo’unga 5 con)

Wales 17 (H Amos, J Adams tries; R Patchell 2 con, pen)

HT: 28-10 All Blacks