Entertaining running rugby
By Roger Childs
The play-off for third and fourth at previous Rugby World Cups has often been a dreary affair with neither side being that interested. This time it was different. After the disappointment of last week’s losses, both sides were keen to play open rugby and entertain the crowd. And that they did with eight tries scored and a final score line of 40-17 to the All Blacks.
In both sides there were a number of players taking the field for the last time in a test match keen to play well, and both coaches – Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland — have now bowed out following the game.
Starting with enthusiasm
The All Blacks were quickly into their work showing an energy and confidence that was lacking in last week’s semi-final, wand scored two tries in the first quarter of an hour. First Brodie Retallick gave a superb off-load to prop Joe Moody and the big man sprinted 25 metres to score handy to the posts. And then shortly after, Beauden Barrett received an inside pass a similar distance from the line and went over unopposed. Richie Mo’unga converted both tries.
Then Wales scored with a well worked try to full back Hallam Amos to make it 14-7. Prolific try scorer Josh Adams on the left wing went over in the second half – not sure if he planted the ball on or over the line – however this took his tally for the World Cup to a tournament best of seven. The other four tries were scored by the All Blacks.
The game lost a bit of its shape in the last quarter with all the players on the two benches getting a run. However will full time up, Jordie Barrett made a superb 50 metre run from inside his 22, slipped the ball inside to his brother who then passed to Anton Lienert Brown. Only a despairing “tackle’ by a Welsh defender grabbing the centre by the elastic of his shorts which threatened to come off, denied the All Blacks a seventh try.
A fitting end to the season
Given that they would have much preferred to have been contesting the final, this comprehensive victory over the Welsh, who won the Six Nations competition earlier in the season, was very satisfying for the All Blacks.
Players who had not been in the team against England, such as Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty were outstanding. Nobody played poorly and all the tries were the result of impressive inter-passing between backs and forwards. Ben Smith scored two tries, one a brilliant effort under the posts after beating four defenders. He very nearly got a third.
The Welsh abandoned the “high kick and hope” approach that was ineffective against the Springboks last week, and ran the ball frequently with the 60% possession they had.
So the two senior coaches and a number of players ended their careers in a match which thoroughly entertained the crowd and provided a show piece for the game of rugby.