01 November 2019 04:35
New Zealand v Wales, the 2019 Rugby World Cup third-place play-off/bronze-medal match. The game no one really wants to play in, but have to, after falling at the final hurdle in the pursuit of a World Cup final place. The game either goes the way of free-flowing rugby as players cut loose or ends up as a damp squib of a match, with minds already elsewhere. Twenty teams started off RWC 2019 with the goal of becoming world champions - England and South Africa the last two standing after seeing off the All Blacks and Welsh respectively. New Zealand will concede their crown on Saturday but first up on Friday, they play a Wales side looking to try to match the third-place finish they achieved in 1987.
Wales haven't beaten New Zealand for 66 years and 31 matches and I can't see them breaking that habit. New Zealand will be smarting from their semi-final exit to England and it's a final fling for members of their old guard. Captain Kieran Read, Ben Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty will want to see their out-going coach Steve Hansen off in style. Third place matches at the World Cup have traditionally been high-scoring affairs and it wouldn't surprise me if there's plenty of points in this one. If the All Blacks control the tempo of the match, their searing speed and skill should see them extend their winning hold over Wales to 32 with a comfortable success.
The All Blacks also have a skilful and rapid back division that their mix-and-match Wales counterparts will do well to shackle. The presence of five Lions led by Alun Wyn Jones will help Wales, but it's hard to see beyond New Zealand. New Zealand know they let themselves down with their performance against England. Perhaps it's foolish to write Wales off in Gatland's final game. Ben James - All Blacks to win the game no one wants to play It's the game no one wants to play - the consolation prize for not reaching the World Cup final, if it can be called that.
So, for Wales and New Zealand, it's about getting yourself up for this match as best as you can. Wales should relish the chance of a first victory over New Zealand in 66 years. It's a match of farewells on both sides of the board, but you fear it is the departing All Blacks who will finish with a winning send-off. The sensible money, given the teams and the circumstances, says New Zealand to comfortably in a high-scoring affair as both teams loosen up. The World Cup ended for these two sides last weekend and now they have to turn up and parade around like some show pony at a Harvest Fair. Wales have made nine changes from their starting XV that lost to South Africa 19-16 last Sunday in the semi-final. Nicky Smith starts for Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis comes in for Tomas Francis, Adam Beard is in place of Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric starts at six for Aaron Wainwright, James Davies takes over at openside for Tipuric, Tomos Williams replaces Gareth Davies and Rhys Patchell takes over at fly-half for Dan Biggar. Owen Watkin comes in at 12 for Hadleigh Parkes, while Owen Lane starts on the right-wing to make his World Cup debut after being flown out as an injury replacement. New Zealand on the other hand have made seven changes to the starting XV that lost to England 19-7 in last Saturday's semi-final. Top Pick: New Zealand (-20) – 10/11 This game is being played between two sides whose players always perform to their peak in their respective red and black jerseys. New Zealand are giving a going away 'cap' to a few of their big names with Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Smith all set to wear the silver fern for the last time. Going along with this nostalgic strain, I think that Wales could be vulnerable through the centre and with both sides not really 'worried' about the consequences of their actions this weekend, I fancy New Zealand to have some trick plays up their sleeve off scrum and lineout. The last win by Wales over New Zealand came on December 19, 1953. But, we are an optimistic bunch and we think Wales are going to score a try at some point. Wales are all about work rate in the forwards and if they are going to get anything from this game it could come from their eight big men. Should Wales use 'Warren ball' to get over the line, or even if they loosen the straps and allow them to play a little more, Ross Moriarty is going to be at the forefront of both. The All Blacks team to play Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze medal match at Tokyo Stadium on Friday. OPINION: It's time World Rugby bosses scrapheap the tedious third-fourth playoff match. Why would anybody give two hoots who has bronze medals dangling around their necks when the dust settles on the Rugby World Cup every four years? Even Sanzaar decision makers, who are full of brainless ideas when it comes to the format of Super Rugby, don't force the losing semifinalists to pick up their lips and play off for the right to call themselves the third best team in the competition. Should the All Blacks beat Wales in Tokyo on Friday night, don't think for a minute their campaign has been anything but a failure. Stuff ran a poll during Thursday's live team-naming blog ahead of Friday's match between the All Blacks and Wales, asking whether or not World Rugby should bin the fixture. More than 3500 people responded, with 1880 (53 per cent) agreeing the bronze medal match is a waste of time, while 1695 (47 per cent) were all for another code fix. ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT Departing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will sign off after Friday night's bronze medal match against Wales. It's fair to wonder how many of those keen to tuck into Friday's match are only eager for the fixture because it's a chance to farewell All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and a bunch of his players. Getting one last look at Kieran Read, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Matt Todd and Sonny Bill Williams in the black jersey in the only reason not to fire up the latest Netflix series. On the other side, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will play his last World Cup match, and Chiefs-bound coach Warren Gatland gets a chance to sign off with Wales' first test win against the All Blacks since 1953. For them it would be like winning the World Cup if they win this one, maybe." It's the same for the Fifa World Cup every four years. Only it does for World Rugby, who will point to a packed stadium and see the many dollar signs that come with it. Thank goodness the ICC didn't ask Australia and India to playoff for third after their semifinal losses to England and New Zealand respectively at the Cricket World Cup earlier this year. New Zealand and Wales face each other on Friday in a match nobody wants to be part of: the bronze final. New Zealand were downed by a rampant England in their Rugby World Cup semi-final, while Wales failed to get past a solid South Africa. This is Warren Gatland's last match in charge of Wales after a glittering 12 years at the helm. Gatland will be hoping to get one over his compatriots when Wales clash with the All Blacks in Tokyo. RadioTimes.com has rounded up everything you need to know about how to watch the New Zealand v Wales game on TV and online. What time is New Zealand v Wales? New Zealand v Wales will kick off at 9:00am on Friday 1st November 2019. Where is New Zealand v Wales? How to watch and live stream New Zealand v Wales How to watch Rugby World Cup highlights ITV are showing full highlights of every Rugby World Cup fixture on the evening of each day of action. Highlights for the Rugby World Cup final will be aired from 6:00pm on ITV4.