All Blacks beat Wales to end tour unbeaten

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    Steve Hansen rates Rieko Ioane among the finest young talents he’s seen after his All Blacks ended the year on a winning note against Wales in Cardiff.

    The 20-year-old winger was heralded a “phenomenon” by Hansen after his injury-ravaged team saw off the belligerent hosts 33-18 on Saturday, scoring five tries to two.

    Ioane had a hand in four of them, including scoring the last two, continuing his game-breaking form from last week’s gripping defeat of Scotland.

    Hansen was thankful his young star — who is nominated in two categories at Sunday’s World Rugby awards — had shaken off an injury that looked set to rule him out of year’s final Test.

    “Thank goodness his shoulder came right, that’s all I can say,” Hansen said.

    “He’s phenomenal. If we can keep his feet on the floor he can go anywhere, that kid.

    “Every time he gets the ball, you think ‘wow, what’s going to happen?’.”

    A New Zealand team missing more than half of their first-choice lineup were outplayed for lengthy periods but resilience in defence and classy finishing proved the difference.

    They completed their European tour with a perfect five-from-five record, with Test wins also coming over France and Scotland.

    All were challenging games, with the Welsh proving physically the equal of the All Blacks, who were flattered to lead 13-12 at halftime.

    The world champions looked vulnerable entering the last 10 minutes just eight points up and missing stand-in captain Sam Whitelock, who was shown a yellow card.

    Rather than succumb to the fatigue of a long season, the All Blacks finished stronger, consigning Wales to a 30th successive defeat dating back to 1953.

    It left the All Blacks with a record of 11 wins, one draw and two losses in a year notable for the forced development of fresh face as injuries and unavailability struck Hansen’s side.

    By the half-hour mark, New Zealand had made 81 tackles to Wales’ 11.

    Despite that, they created two tries to winger Waisake Naholo in the right-hand corner and then had too much class when the game opened up in the second spell.

    Ioane’s offload set up Anton Lienert-Brown before the young winger’s brilliant late double, the first from an intercept and the second via his footwork and raw speed.

    Wales scored through centre Scott Williams and halfback Gareth Davies but lacked the panache and clinical finishing needed to bust open a defence that rarely buckled.

    “You can put the best systems in the world in place but If they’re not followed through with energy and enthusiasm and accuracy then they’re not gong to work,” Hansen said.

    “We didn’t miss too many opportunities and that kept us well in the game.”

    © AAP 2017