By Mark Wyatt at the Principality Stadium
New Zealand’s All Blacks finished their 2017 with a 18-33 win against a spirited Welsh team.
It was a case of what could’ve been for Warren Gatland’s men, as they trailed by a singular point at the end of the first half.
But the world champions were not willing to roll over and a brilliant second-half display from them ensured they remained unbeaten against Wales since 1953.
An electric atmosphere at Cardiff’s national stadium set-up a fierce opening 15 minutes from both sides, Leigh Halfpenny putting the first points on the board for Wales with a penalty kick.
Scrum-half Rhys Webb was an early casualty for the home side, he was replaced by Gareth Davies as New Zealand pressed for points of their own.
They soon got what they wanted as Waisake Naholo finished in the corner superbly, despite some heavy pressure from Staff Evans.
Halfpenny managed to kick another three points for Wales but Naholo added his second of the match soon after, with Beauden Barrett unable to convert.
With half-time looming the crowd erupted as Hallam Amos burst through a tightly contested middle and found Scott Williams, who put the ball down for Wales’ first try on his 50th appearance and put the score at 11-12 going into the half.
After the restart there were signs that Wales’ energetic start was costing them, New Zealand replacement Anton Lienert-Brown’s quick finish and Rieko Ioane’s fantastic interception left Wales with a small mountain to climb.
Gareth Davies touched down with 10 minutes to go to give the home support some optimism, but Rieko Ioane’s second put the contest to bed as the All Blacks claimed an impressive 30th straight victory over Wales.
Ultimately it wasn’t a bad performance from Wales and they can hold their heads high for never giving up against a side that look unbeatable, even without some of their biggest stars.
Wales 18 – 33 New Zealand
Tries – S Williams, G Davies / Naholo 2, Liernert-Brown, Ioane 2
Conversions –Halfpenny / Barrett 4
Penalties- Halfpenny 2