New Zealand ended their World Cup campaign, and the Steve Hansen era, with a commanding 40-17 victory over Wales in the bronze final match in Tokyo.
Ben Smith ran in two tries as the All Blacks eased the pain of their semi-final defeat to England, while also denying Wales the chance to equal their best-ever finish at a World Cup in Warren Gatland’s final game in charge.
The Wales wing Josh Adams almost broke through for his seventh try of the tournament in the first minute, but Gatland’s side soon fell two scores behind as a more expansive New Zealand punished defensive lapses. Joe Moody and Beauden Barrett went over before Hallam Amos got Wales on the board after an equally impressive attacking move.
Rhys Patchell’s penalty put the game briefly in the balance but the All Blacks surged clear before half-time, with Ben Smith scoring twice in quick succession, punishing a careless Wales turnover before crossing at the corner after a fine pass from scrum-half Aaron Smith.
New Zealand stretched their lead to 35-10 moments after the break, with two departing veterans combining well. Sonny Bill Williams offloaded to Ryan Crotty, with Aaron Smith again pivotal in the buildup. Adams secured top spot in the try-scoring charts with a score in the 58th minute, but the final result was never in doubt. Richie Mo’unga scored the All Blacks’ sixth try late on, taking his tournament tally to 52 points.
• Paul Rees’s report from Tokyo to follow …