CARDIFF – The All Blacks survived ferocious Wales pressure to see off Warren Gatland’s battling side 33-18 and complete a northern-hemisphere whitewash at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium with a fifth tour victory on Saturday.
The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, with the All Blacks powered to a 30th successive victory over their opponents by their powerful wings Waisake Naholo and man of the match Rieko Ioane, who each scored two tries.
But they were given a mighty scare by the home side, who hinted at an upset just before the interval with a well-worked move that let in Scott Williams for a try in his 50th international.
A raucous home crowd sensed a possible first victory in 64 years over their illustrious opponents.
There could and should have been more points as Wales, who enjoyed 63 percent of territory and possession, camped out on the All Black line for long periods, only to lack the killer punch.
Just as against Scotland the previous week, New Zealand struggled to get hold of the ball, although they were typically clinical when it eventually fell into their hands, and Anton Lienert-Brown also crossed after the interval.
Even then, Wales refused to buckle and Gareth Davies, who had come on as an early replacement for the concussed Rhys Webb, sniped off the back of the scrum to cut the lead once more.
Home hopes proved short-lived, however, with Ioane restoring the advantage to allow the All Blacks to end their rugby year on a tour high.
Beauden Barrett kicked four conversions, with Scott Halfpenny replying with two penalties and one conversion for Wales.
The win meant All Black coach Steve Hansen edged his Wales and Lions counterpart Gatland 2-1 in a series of titanic clashes between their teams in 2017.