In the interests of national pride, teams may think twice before scheduling midweek clashes against New Zealand Super Rugby franchises on future tours
A second-string Wales side was trounced 40-7 by an equally under-strength Chiefs line-up on Tuesday night – and 2011 All Blacks World Cup hero Stephen Donald was the sentimental star of the stirring victory.
Amped up by a pre-match haka, the 17,756-strong Hamilton crowd spurred the Chiefs to a 21-0 halftime lead – despite a dearth of possession – with captain Donald brilliantly setting up Brad Webber for the opening try, before forwards Tom Sanders and Dominic Bird added five-pointers.
After a brief Welsh fight-back early in the second stanza, stand-in fullback James Lowe, winger Toni Pulu and reserve back Sam McNicol finished off superb long-range tries to complete the rout.
The Chiefs were without All Blacks squad members Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Charlie Ngatai, Damian McKenzie, Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Seta Tamanivalu, but the replacements emphatically showed the franchise’s exceptional depth.
The win could provide the impetus required for the 2012-13 champions to push towards their third title when Super Rugby reconvenes in July. Aside from being a confidence booster, it was a crucial hit-out that the other heavyweights aren’t getting as they try and negotiate the month-long break.
For Wales, it was a deflating night after their plucky effort in the 39-21 loss to the All Blacks in the first Test. It shapes as a tough task for coach Warren Gatland and Wales’ senior players to regroup as they prepare for Wellington, and a New Zealand side that will be far better than they were at Eden Park.
But the occasion belonged to the 32-year-old Donald, who added yet another chapter to a remarkable career that looked to be on the scrapheap after that infamous 2010 loss to the Wallabies in Hong Kong.
Clearly hampered by a leg injury, ‘Beaver’ received a spine-tingling standing ovation from the adoring Hamilton crowd when he hobbled off in the 68th minute.
— ONE News – Sport (@ONENewsSport) June 14, 2016
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) June 14, 2016