Saturday, November 22, 2008

Test Rugby: New Zealand v Wales

New Zealand v Wales

6 Nations title holder Wales takes on the ruthless All Blacks at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Wales has always been regarded as a major foe that the New Zealanders love to defeat. However its been over fifty years since Wales has won a test against the All Blacks and in the last twenty years the Welsh have taken some mighty hammerings from the Kiwis.

I call the AllBlacks ruthless because of the way they shut out opposing attacks and then stamp their authority on the game. Not since Hong Kong has a side scored a try against this team. This All Black side has the chance to grab the 'Grand Slam', which for Southern Hemisphere sides involves winning tests against all the 'Home' nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) in one test series. So far the New Zealanders have defeated Scotland 32-6 (with virtually their second-string side) and Ireland 22-3 (with the full complement) with ease.

Wales on the other hand conceded 20 points against South Africa and 13 against Canada this month. They were unlucky to lose to the Springbox (am I allowed to call them that?) and their second-string side struggled against a determined Canadian side. Wales on their hallowed ground (Why did they ever drop the name 'Cardiff Arms Park'?) in front of a passionate crowd are always a handful. The Welsh will need to play well beyond what they have produced so far in November to get near the New Zealanders. The last two occasions the Kiwis ventured out on this ground each time they gave the Welsh an almighty walloping.

One thing you can be sure of is that the Welsh will throw everything at the All Blacks in the first half. Whether they can maintain that for the whole eighty minutes is another story.

Mid-week the second-string All Black side won 18-16 against the European Champions side Munster. What a day for the provincial side and for rugby outside the main test arena. A match like in the gold-old-days when touring teams played a mid-week game and then took on a test side come Saturday. Unfortunately such matches usually always produce casualties and New Zealand hooker Corey Flynn broke his arm in this match. Elliott may well gain his first All Black test 'cap'. To me being able to front up in a test match after a mid-week match is the real 'test' of an international rugby team.

Last Five Encounters
25.11.2006 New Zealand 45-10 in Cardiff.
05.11.2005 New Zealand 41-5 in cardiff
20.11.2004 New Zealand 26-25 in cardiff
02.11.2003 New Zealand 53-37 in Sydney (World Cup, Pool D)
21.06.2003 New Zealand 55-3 in Hamilton

GWC Rugby Rankings: New Zealand 1st, Wales 4th

Prediction: New Zealand by 23 points.


15 Lee Byrne
14 Leigh Halfpenny
13 Thomas Shanklin
12 James Roberts
11 Shane Williams
10 Stephen Jones
9 Gareth Cooper
8 Andrew Powell
7 Martyn Williams
6 Ryan Jones, Capt.
5 Ian Evans
4 Alun-Wyn Jones
3 Adam Jones
2 Matthew Rees
1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Richard Hibbard
17 John Yapp
18 Luke Charteris
19 Dafydd Jones
20 Dwayne Peel
21 James Hook/Dan Biggar
22 Andrew Bishop
Head Coach: Warren Gatland

New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina
14 Joe Rokocoko
13 Richard Kahui
12 Ma'a Nonu
11 Sitiveni Sivivatu
10 Daniel Carter
9 James Cowan
8 Rodney So'oialo
7 Richard McCaw, Capt.
6 Jerome Kaino
5 Alistair Williams
4 Bradley Thorn
3 Tony Woodcock
2 Keven Mealamu
1 Neemia Tialata
16 Hikawera Elliot
17 John Afoa
18 Anthony Boric
19 Kieran Read
20 Piri Weepu
21 Stephen Donald
22 Isaia Toeava
Head Coach: Graham Henry

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Wales, and by New Zealand, go to

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