Rugby | New Zealand thump Wales in third-place play-off

New Zealand have beaten Wales 40-17 in the World Cup third-place play-off.

The All Blacks scored six tries at Ajinomoto Stadium to ensure Steve Hansen’s final game as head coach ended in victory.

Joe Moody, Beauden Barret, Ben Smith (two), Ryan Crotty and Richie Mo’unga all crossed the whitewash to secure an emphatic victory in Tokyo.

Defeat for Wales – who made nine changes from the semi-final defeat to South Africa – brings an end to Warren Gatland’s successful tenure, and means the country have finished fourth in a World Cup for the third time in the head coach’s 12-year reign.

Mo’unga missed a penalty in the opening minutes as New Zealand came flying out of the traps.

Moody touched down in the fifth minute to give the All Blacks an early lead following a strong run from Brodie Retallick, with Mo’unga converting to make it 7-0.

Barrett scored their second try in the 13th minute, with Barrett crashing over between the posts after a weighted offload from Smith. Mo’unga converted again to make it 14-0.

Wales responded with a try five minutes later.

Hallam Amos wove his way over the try-line after selling an excellent dummy, after 10 phases of intent Welsh attacking.

Rhys Patchell converted to halve the deficit, before adding a penalty in the 27th minute to make it 14-10.

Smith – making his final international appearance – scored New Zealand’s third try just after the half hour mark.

He spotted a gap in the Wales defence and drove past Amos to touch down, with Mo’unga adding his third conversion soon afterwards.

Smith doubled his tally in the final minute of the half, shrugging off the challenges of Tomos Williams and Josh Adams to go over in the corner after a pass from his namesake Aaron.

Mo’unga’s fourth conversion of the half made it 28-10 at the interval.

Crotty bagged the All Blacks’ fifth try two minutes after the restart, scoring on his final appearance after a great run and pass from Sonny Bill Williams. Mo’unga duly converted to add to Hansen’s side’s lead.

Adams notched Wales’ second try on the hour mark. The tournament’s top try-scorer produced a pick-and-go to go over from close range, scoring his seventh try of the World Cup.

Dan Biggar converted to make it 35-17.

Mo’unga crossed the whitewash for the All Blacks’ sixth try in the 76th minute, driving over following a five-metre scrum.

The All Blacks wouldn’t have been expecting to be battling for bronze, but this was a strong end to the tournament for Hansen’s men.

The coming months will bring plenty of change for both countries.

Gatland will now return to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs in Super Rugby, while New Zealand are yet to announce Hansen’s replacement.