CARDIFF, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Wales coach Warren Gatland said New Zealand’s trademark clinical finishing proved the difference between the sides as the visitors bludgeoned their way to a 33-18 win in Cardiff.
He believes, however, the performance showed that the gap between New Zealand and the rest “may be closing a little bit”.
A Welsh victory looked possible for much of the game, particularly in the first half when they dominated possession and had several chances to add to the try Scott Williams scored just before the interval.
“It was a great test match,” said Gatland. “At halftime we felt very much in the game and pretty comfortable. We needed to go out in the second half and be accurate.
“But they marked two or three of their moments and we didn’t.”
It has been a familiar story over the years for Gatland, who has lost each time he has faced his compatriots as Wales coach. But he believed much of Wales’s play was “very positive” and augurs well for the build-up to the World Cup in 2019.
“It was better than the first half against Australia (when his side lost 29-21 earlier this month). “Defensively it was good although we were exposed a couple of times but I was happy with the attacking.
“But New Zealand are a good team, aren’t they? But we’re excited about a couple of our guys. Steff Evans and Owen Williams will have learned a lot.”
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones agreed they should have made more of their chances, particularly in the first half. “New Zealand are a team that always take their chances, and they did that,” he said
His fellow lock Jake Ball looks likely to miss next week’s test against South Africa after injuring his shoulder. Scrumhalf Rhys Webb, who was replaced early in the game after receiving a blow to the head, is also likely to miss out next week. (Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Toby Davis)