Charge into the ruck with Rugby World Cup tips for the third-place playoff between New Zealand and Wales.
20:00 (AEDT), Fri 1st Nov @ Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo
History: Played 34: New Zealand 31 V Wales 3
Last meeting: November 1, 2019: New Zealand 33 d Wales 18 at Millennium Stadium
Final thoughts: It’s widely regarded as the Rugby World Cup match no team wants to play in. But New Zealand and Wales both have a sizeable point to prove in the 2019 third-place playoff.
Overwhelming title favourites and two-time defending champs New Zealand were stunned 19-7 by England in a semi-final destined to go down in Rugby World Cup folklore. The All Blacks were on the back foot from the first minute and never recovered. Even their sole try had an opportunist element about it – they were the second-best team on the park by some margin.
Wales went down 19-16 to South Africa in the other semi, which doubled as one of the dullest Test matches ever played. While a showdown with England would have been a dream RWC final match-up, the truth is Wales have barely produced rugby good enough to justify their place in the last eight.
The All Blacks have made eight changes to their starting XV. Exiting veterans Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams get a final run, while Rieko Ioane and Shannon Frizell have received a call-up and Sam Cane returns to the No.7.
Wales’ starting side features nine changes, including Hallam Amos at fullback and a new halves pairing in Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell.
All Blacks dominate Wales rivalry
Wales’ last win over New Zealand was in 1953. The All Blacks have won 30 straight Tests between the nations since then. The last six were decided by at least 14 points. Fifteen of NZ’s 24 wins since 1980 were by 20-plus.
The ABs were caught out by an England team that played the game of their lives last week. But they were otherwise outstanding through the Rugby World Cup.
Wales have been only a touch above ordinary, lack enterprise and have named a weak squad. They are destined to get lapped by an All Blacks outfit seeking retribution and fitting farewells.