Beauden Barrett stars as New Zealand down depleted Wales

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Beauden Barrett marked his 100th Test for New Zealand with intercept tries at either end of the match as the All Blacks beat a depleted Wales 54-16 in Cardiff on Saturday.


The All Blacks ran in seven tries to one by Wales, with fly-half Barrett picking off passes in both the fourth and 79th minutes of a match in which brother Jordie kicked 19 points.

Wales's 32nd successive loss to New Zealand since their last victory over the All Blacks back in 1953 was made worse when captain Alun Wyn Jones went off injured after just 19 minutes at the Principality Stadium.

Jones, who by making a 149th appearance for his country surpassed New Zealand great Richie McCaw's previous world record for most caps for a single nation, had to leave the field with a shoulder/arm injury after making a tackle.

New Zealand were seemingly in complete control at 28-9 on the hour mark before centre Johnny Williams' converted try cut the lead to 28-16.

But the All Blacks showed their famed ruthlessness as they responded with four more tries.

Wales were without some 20 players due to a combination of injuries and illness and the fact the match was taking place outside the designated Test window, meaning they were without England-based stars such as Louis Rees-Zammit, Dan Biggar and Taulupe Faletau.

New Zealand, by contrast were at full strength for what was the first international at the Principality Stadium played in front of a capacity crowd since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe, himself a native New Zealander, was playing his first Test in more than two years after a knee injury.

But he had a nightmare start when his pass was intercepted by Beauden Barrett just four minutes into the match, with the No 10 sprinting in from 30 metres out for a try converted by Jordie.

Anscombe, however, got Wales on the scoreboard with a sixth-minute penalty.

Jordie Barrett kicked another penalty before Wales suffered a huge setback when Jones had to leave the field after tackling the full-back.

Injured: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones
Injured: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones Adrian DENNIS AFP

Jones, however, recovered from a similar injury in a warm-up match against Japan at Murrayfield in June before leading the British and Irish Lions during their 2-1 series loss in South Africa.

Experienced centre Jonathan Davies took over as captain, with Will Rowlands replacing Jones in the second row.

Wales had a reprieve when New Zealand prop Nepo Laulala squandered a try by dropping the ball over the goal-line before Jordie Barrett kicked another penalty.

Six minutes before half-time, the All Blacks had another try. Their slick handling belying the fact the stadium's retractable roof had been left open despite the rain to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Ardie Savea picked up from a ruck before releasing scrum-half TJ Perenara for a try that Jordie Barrett failed to convert.

Deafening cheers

Wales suffered another injury blow when flanker Ross Moriarty went off following a combined tackle by Laulala and flanker Ethan Blackadder, with Laulala yellow-carded for not wrapping his arm.

Anscombe kicked his second penalty but New Zealand were still 18-6 ahead at the break.

That became 21-6 thanks to a penalty from Jordie Barrett before the struggling Anscombe was replaced by Rhys Priestland, making his first international appearance since 2017.

Priestland kicked a penalty but New Zealand scored a third try when wing Will Jordan regathered his own chip over the cover defence.

Jordie Barrett converted and New Zealand led by 19 points.

Heading into the final quarter, Johnny Williams gave Wales a sniff of a comeback when Priestland, making the most of a penalty advantage, cleverly stabbed a kick behind the defence which the centre latched onto for a try -- a score greeted by deafening cheers.

New Zealand, however, crushed Welsh hopes with three tries in six minutes from Dalton Papalili, Sevu Reece and centre Anton Lienert-Brown against a tiring Wales.

Beauden Barrett then rounded off victory by intercepting a Johnny McNicholl pass intended for Josh Adams and bursting clear.