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New Zealand beats Wales 36-0 in Four Nations

New Zealand beats Wales 36-0 in Four Nations

New Zealand got its Four Nations title defense back on track with a 36-0 win over Wales inspired by Benji Marshall in the first match of the doubleheader at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Marshall was involved in all five first-half tries with Sika Manu twice and Jason Nightingale, Kevin Locke, Gerard Beale crossing the line for New Zealand to lead 26-0 at the break.
The tempo slackened, errors abounded and Wales' defensive intensity lifted to restrict the second-half scoring to another try from Beale and one to Nathan Fien.
"I was pretty happy with my involvement and the touches I had," Marshall said. "The second half was a lot harder for me to set up plays like I did in the first half, but it was an improvement and we can improve again."
New Zealand was coming off the back of two losses to Australia _ 42-6 in a warmup match and 26-12 in the tournament opener on Oct. 28 _ while Wales had been thumped 42-4 by England in their first match of the event.
New Zealand will have to beat England next weekend in Hull to reach the Oct. 19 final against Australia at Elland Road in Leeds after the Kangaroos beat the English 36-20 in the second match of the doubleheader.
Wales' structure and defensive alignment were solid enough for a 17-man squad containing at least half a dozen semiprofessional players, but handling errors and poor execution on fifth tackles hampered any chance of crossing New Zealand's line.
The gulf in class was apparent from the outset. Two minutes after being held up over the line after dancing past a couple of defenders, Marshall put a grubber in behind the defensive line in the fourth minute for Nightingale to score his 10th try in 13th internationals.
Marshall played a pivotal role in New Zealand extending the lead to 8-0 in the 13th minute, New Zealand's captain receiving the ball from hooker Thomas Leuluai and displaying quick hands to pop it inside for a flying Locke to swerve through a hole, evade a couple of tacklers and cross the line.
The Welsh had problems coping with the second-man moves of New Zealand, in which an attacker floats behind the play as the ball is shifted wide before he joins in to make the extra man. One such move allowed Manu to wrestle through three defenders close to the line to score in the 20th.
Having missed two eminently kickable conversion attempts, Marshall was third time lucky for the Kiwis to lead 14-0.
Manu collected his second converted try in the 31st after Wales center Christian Roets failed to deal with a towering kick from Marshall, and the loose ball was shovelled on for the Melbourne Storm second-rower to dive over in the corner.
Marshall's outstanding first-half performance was capped in the 39th minute when he went down the blindside, hit center Alex Glenn with a hard, flat pass to help him bust the line and the Brisbane Broncos player sent the ball on for Beale to score his first test try for a 26-0 halftime lead.
Wales second-rower Chris Beasley picked up and dumped Kiwis prop Ben Matulino in one crunching tackle, but New Zealand lock Jeremy Smith leveled the ledger with a monstering hit on winger Elliot Kear in the softening-up period in the first half.
One slinging tackle by Roerts on opposite number Glenn and a midfield bust by Wales substitute Craig Kopczak showed that Wales wasn't about to roll over in the second half. In fact, Kopczak's shoulder charge on an unsuspecting Kiwi ball-carrier was easily the biggest shot of the match.
"I thought they were pretty outstanding," Marshall said of Wales. "To be down like that at halftime and come back out and fight the way they did. Some of their forwards were outstanding, rolling forward. Their two little wingers seemed to make ground every time they touched the ball _ they should be proud of their efforts."
It couldn't be sustained, however, and Beale crossed for his second try out wide in the 62nd after receiving a cut-out pass from Leuluai.
Marshall was more subdued after the break but he still managed to execute a bruising shoulder charge on Roerts to knock the center off his feet.
Fien ended the scoring in the dying moments, finishing off a burst from man-of-the-match Leuluai to cap a solid, if undemanding, team effort.
___
New Zealand 36 (Sika Manu 2, Gerard Beale 2, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Locke, Nathan Fien tries; Benji Marshall 4 conversions), Wales 0. HT: 26-0.


Updated : 2021-04-13 10:43 GMT+08:00