Wales On A Wing And A Prayer Facing New Zealand

Rob Cole looks at the statistics of 64 years of hurt for Wales against New Zealand. And they do not make happy reading.

There are statistics, statistics and damn lies. But some figures reveal the hard truth about why teams are not winning.

For instance, take a look at the numbers from the last 30 Test meetings between Wales and the All Blacks. They stretch back to 1963 up to last weekend and have all ended up in victories for New Zealand.

Among the five tries scored by the World Champions at the Principality Stadium there were four from their wings – two each for Waisake Naholo and Rieko Ioane. They both played well, but more than that they were merely continuing a trend against Wales.

It used to be said that New Zealand produced the best forwards in the world and Wales the most instinctive and incisive backs. ‘Give us 40% possession and we’ll beat them’ used to be the proud boast of Welsh coaches when their teams lined-up against the All Blacks.

Well, at times, Wales enjoyed double that amount of possession last weekend and failed to score.

Yes, there were two tries, but they could and probably should have been more.

The difference between the two teams is the ruthless, clinical way in which the All Blacks create, accept and finish their chances. They have the ability to soak up pressure and then strike in the blink of an eye.

But back to the stats. Here are the alarming figures for the past 30 meetings:

New Zealand: 130 tries / 1031 points
Wales: 27 tries / 345 points

That is a difference of 103 tries and 686 points. The All Blacks are averaging four tries per game, whereas Wales can’t count on a try per game. Last weekend was the fourth time in 10 games at the Principality Stadium they have scored five tries.

And where do the majority of those tries come from? The New Zealand wings. The try count in those 10 games at the Principality Stadium is 37-11 in New Zealand’s favour – with 17 of them coming from their wings.

In those 30 successive wins over Wales no fewer than 53 of the 130 tries have come from their wings, while the Welsh wingers have replied with six.

Naholo made it five tries in four matches against Wales with his brace. That put him level with Terry Wright and Doug Howlett, but leaves him trailing Joe Rokocoko (6) and John Kirwan (7).

It is frightening to think that Steve Hansen can discard the 27-year-old Julian Savea, who has scored 46 tries in 54 Tests. Naholo now has 12 in 18, while the 20-year-old Ioane, named at the weekend as the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, now has 11 in 12 internationals.

If you want to stop the All Blacks, then find a way to stop their wings. As good as Hallam Amos and Steff Evans are, and have been playing, the difference between them and Naholo and Ioane at the weekend was like chalk and cheese.

1963 0-0
1967 0-2 Bill Birtwhistle
1969 (1) 0-4 Malcolm Dick
1969 (2) 2-3 Maurice Richards (W) / George Skudder
1972 1-1 John Bevan (W)
1978 0-1 Stu Wilson
1980 0-4 Bernie Fraser
1987 1-8 John Kirwan
1988 (1) 0-10 John Kirwan 4, Terry Wright 2
1988 (2) 1-8 John Kirwan 2, Terry Wright 2
1989 0-4 Craig Innes 2, Terry Wright
1995 0-3 Marc Elllis
1997 1-5 Nigel Walker (W)
2002 2-4 Doug Howlett 2
2003 (1) 0-8 Joe Rokocoko 2, Doug Howlett
2003 (2) 4-8 Shane Williams (W) / Joe Rokocoko 2, Doug Howett 2
2004 2-3 Tom Shanklin (W) / Joe Rokocoko 2
2005 0-5 Rico Gear 3
2006 1-5 Sitiveni Sivivatu 3
2008 0-2
2009 0-1
2010 (1) 0-4 Cory Jane
2010 (2) 1-2 Cory Jane
2010 (3) 1-5 Hosea Gear 2, Isaia Toeava
2012 2-3 Alex Cuthbert (W)
2014 1-5 Julian Savea
2016 (1) 2-5 Waisake Naholo 2, Julian Savea
2016 (2) 3-5 Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith
2016 (3) 0-6 Ben Smith
2017 2-5 Waisake Naholo 2, Rieko Ioane 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *