Tip New Zealand - Wales
Wales and New Zealand must dust themselves down after Rugby World Cup semi-final heartbreak and prepare for one final test in Japan in Friday’s third place play-off. Defending champions New Zealand were outfought and outplayed as England put on a performance for the ages to end the All Blacks’ reign of dominance and reach their first final since 2007. A Wales side dealt bad luck with injuries throughout the competition failed in their bid to join them, falling short against South Africa to ensure there will be no fairy-tale ending for Warren Gatland. Like the Wales boss, New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen will also step down after this competition. The All Blacks have scored five or more tries against the Dragons in seven of their last nine meetings and have scored at least 33 points in eight of the last nine. The Kiwis won their last bronze final, in 2003, against France 40-13, with a near full-strength side and while departing head coach Steve Hansen may tinker with his selection, he will want to go out on a high and so will his superb skipper Kieran Read.
Key points New Zealand - Wales
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953.
New Zealand will want to bounce back from their shock defeat last weekend.
Wales have not won a third place finish since 1987.
Conclusion New Zealand - Wales
Wales looked like they emptied the tank against the Springboks on Sunday and have picked up a few injuries, so their emphasis is unlikely to be on maintaining their solid defensive structures. This week is unlikely to reach those dramatic heights but stay tuned. Wales versus New Zealand is full of history and angst, from Bob Deans being pulled back from a 'try' in the first match in 1905, prop Keith Murdoch being sent home in 1972, to Andy Haden diving out of a lineout in 1978 in a bid to win a crucial penalty. New Zealand have not lost to Wales since 1953. Losing on Friday would double down on an already miserable RWC. We predict a win for the All Blacks.
New Zealand Wales Prediction published on October 29, 2019