Wales depleted for battle with South Africa

Wales 18 New Zealand 33: Wales could be minus a third of the team beaten by New Zealand for next Saturday’s autumn series finale against South Africa.

With the Springboks clash falling outside World Rugby’s autumn international fixture window, players who ply their trade outside Wales are not obliged to be released by their clubs.

Gloucester back Owen Williams, Exeter prop Tomas Francis and Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau are set to be back on Aviva Premiership business next weekend, while scrum-half Rhys Webb (head knock) and lock Jake Ball (shoulder) are both injury concerns.

Centre Jamie Roberts and fly-half Rhys Priestland, who were used as substitutes in the 33-18 All Blacks defeat, are also employed by English clubs, while Wales head coach Warren Gatland also cannot call on the quartet of Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams, George North and Sam Warburton.

However, he will have uncapped New Zealand-born centre Hadleigh Parkes available, with Parkes completing his three-year Wales qualification residency this week.

The South Africa game is likely to provide a major examination of Gatland’s squad resources, though Wales’ recent record against them is a good one, having won two from the last three encounters.

“There are a few players going back to their club sides next week,” said Gatland. “I will need to see what the position is with all those players that are involved at the English clubs.

“We will see how we are from a physical point of view over the next 24 hours, and then start preparing for another tough match.

“If we can play as we did in the first half [against New Zealand], with that amount of territory and possession, and learn from it and be a bit more clinical against a side that probably doesn’t have the capabilities the All Blacks do, hopefully, that will give us an opportunity to score more points.”

Wales, despite dominating possession and territory, especially in the first half, were undone by five All Blacks tries, including two each for wings Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo, as they suffered a 30th successive defeat against New Zealand.

Since Gatland took the helm in early 2008, Wales have claimed just three wins from 37 starts against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, though his assistant Rob Howley was in charge for some of those games.

“We have spoken about developing players and exposing players to this level for the next two years, as we build for the World Cup, and we feel that we are doing that,” said Gatland.

“We need to learn from the first three weeks we have been together and continue to improve and, hopefully, we can come away with a good result next week.

“One of the things you can’t do as a coach is coach experience. We had a few youngsters out there who will learn from that, and the advantage for a lot of the southern-hemisphere players is the level they are playing, week in, week out, at Super Rugby and then the Rugby Championship.

“They have been together for that period and are able to handle being under pressure for long times and take their opportunities when they appear for them. That is what we try and replicate at training and get better at, and I think a lot of our players will go away from this and have a close look at their games and take a lot out of that experience and what they would have learnt from playing against such a quality side.”

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, predicted a bright future for All Black wing Ioane. “[Ioane] is phenomenal. If he keeps his feet on the floor, he could go anywhere, that kid. He has got pace. He only needs half a yard, because he is so quick, and he is a big man, too.”

Wales scorers:

Tries: S. Williams, G. Davies. Cons: Halfpenny. Pens: Halfpenny 2.

WALES:

Halfpenny, Amos, S. Williams, O. Williams, S. Evans, Biggar, Webb, R. Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, A. Jones, Shingler, Navidi, Faletau.

Replacements:

Roberts for S. Williams (58), Priestland for Biggar (64), G. Davies for Webb (9), W. Jones for R. Evans (58), Dacey for Owens (76), Hill for Ball (19), Tipuric for Shingler (71).

New Zealand scorers:

Tries: Naholo 2, Liernert-Brown, R. Ioane 2. Cons: B. Barrett 4.

NEW ZEALAND:

McKenzie, Naholo, Crotty, Williams, R. Ioane, B. Barrett, A. Smith, Hames, Taylor, Laulala, Tuipulotu, S. Whitelock, Squire, Cane, L. Whitelock.

Replacements:

Liernert-Brown for Crotty (19), Sopoaga for B. Barrett (71), Perenara for A. Smith (64), Crockett for Hames (60), Harris for Taylor (71), Tu’ungafasi for Laulala (41), S. Barrett for Tuipulotu (46), Todd for S. Whitelock (46).



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