Wales 10 - 33 New Zealand

Match info: International at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Date: 24/11/2012 KO: 17:15

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Wales

TriesWilliams (57) Cuthbert (77)

10
vs
33

New Zealand

TriesMessam (27) Woodcock (39) Romano (49)ConversionsCruden (27, 40, 50)PenaltiesCruden (9, 19, 22, 43)

FT (ht: 0-23)

  • Last Updated: November 23 2012, 18:36 GMT

Wales will be under mounting pressure to avoid a sixth successive defeat as they chase a first-ever win over New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Wales: Getting desperate
Wales: Getting desperate

The hosts have suffered five Test losses on the bounce going into this clash, while the world champions are on a 19-game unbeaten run and looking to defend a 24-match winning sequence against their hosts that stretches back almost 60 years.

Over the course of the past fortnight Wales have been unrecognisable from the team that reached the World Cup semi-finals and then secured a Six Nations Grand Slam. Indeed, the highs of the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations seem a distant memory.

Gone is the dazzling back play that has so often characterized Wales teams down the years, whilst the pack made no impression against Argentina and Samoa as they were dominated at the breakdown in both matches.

Another loss will not only be the Dragons' worst form slump since the 2002-03 season, when current All Blacks boss Steve Hansen coached Wales, but could also possibly relegate them outside the world's top eight nations in the IRB world rankings.

That would mean the Welsh being third seeds when the pool draw for the 2015 World Cup is made on December 3.

And after Saturday's hit-out, it doesn't get any easier for Wales with Australia looming over the horizon which could see the Wallabies complete an end-of-year whitewash for the hosts.

However, the return of Warren Gatland could be the tonic needed for Wales to redeem themselves in what is proving to be a chastening month of November internationals. Away on preparatory British and Irish Lions business for next year's tour Down Under while losses to Argentina and Samoa unfolded, Gatland is back in the hot seat this week tasked with transforming Wales' wilting fortunes.

"We've let ourselves down," he said.

"I'm not going to be here forever and part of my role is to develop the playing and coaching staff. I've no regrets (about the Lions job). We've had a little dip and we need to get back on the horse.

"It is not a physical issue, we need to up the tempo and face the challenge. It is just about getting the head right."

"A lot of the guys have had a bit of abuse on Twitter and it's about how you deal with that," added Gatland.

"It's been quite personal for some of them. It's about dealing with a crisis for the first time. These are young men going through a challenging time and adversity will make them stronger. This has been the first time many of them have been under this kind of pressure."

Hansen, meanwhile, believes the flak that has flown Wales' way during their dismal Test series will galvanise them on Saturday.

Gatland's opposite number is completely on guard for the threat Wales could pose, especially after they have been so widely written-off.

"I don't have too much sympathy for them - I am in the opposition camp these days!" he said.

"But what it does do is I know it will make them tighter. Invariably, when they get criticised, they get tighter. It will make them more dangerous, I think."

Perhaps. But whilst Wales have been suffering badly since their southern hemisphere excursion earlier this year, the All Blacks have gone from strength to strength - although the length of involvement must be starting to tell on bodies now.

Wales would need to have a significant uplift in performance levels to seriously test the All Blacks while the visitors have the goal of a finishing 2012 unbeaten.

Dan Carter has tweeted he's "gutted" to be missing out for New Zealand.

Fly-half Carter will be replaced by Aaron Cruden for the game at the Millennium Stadium, with Beauden Barrett joining the replacements' bench.

Carter, who has won 93 caps, suffered a leg injury during All Blacks training at the University of Glamorgan on Wednesday.

In nine appearances against Wales he has scored 162 points and never been on the losing side.

Carter Tweeted a picture of All Blacks training inside the Millennium Stadium on Friday afternoon. In the same post, he said: "Gutted not to be playing with these boys in this stadium tomorrow".

Carter's tweet was followed by confirmation from All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw that Cruden would wear the number 10 shirt.

The 30-year-old's injury is believed to be Achilles-related.

"It is something you can't control," McCaw told journalists. "It is disappointing for Dan, but the next guy will come in and we will try to give him some good ball to operate with.

"Aaron has played a few Tests, some pretty big games.

"Dan is a pretty good footballer, 90-something Tests. He is hard to replace, but we've got to get on and have belief in the next guys."

Cruden, 23, has won 18 caps, and he has yet to taste defeat in an All Blacks shirt.

He was called into the All Blacks squad during last year's World Cup as replacement for an injured Carter, who damaged his groin during training.

Cruden went on to start the All Blacks' semi-final victory over Australia in Auckland, and then started the final against France before he was forced off just before half-time due to a knee problem.

Teams

Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), L Williams (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); P James (Bath), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Perpignan), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Toulon), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).

New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; A Cruden, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, L Romano, S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Replacements: D Coles, W Crockett, C Faumuina, B Retallick, V Vito, P Weepu, B Barrett, B Smith.


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