Wales humbled by Super Rugby's Chiefs in New Zealand
Last Updated: 14/06/16 4:22pm
Wales' tour of New Zealand suffered a heavy blow as they went down 40-7 to the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato on Tuesday.
Wales were outscored by the Chiefs six tries to one, and are now left to pick up the pieces ahead of their second Test against the All Blacks this Saturday.
Warren Gatland's men pushed the All Blacks for close to 80 minutes last weekend, but were rarely in the encounter against the 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby champions on Tuesday.
Tries from scrum-half Brad Weber, No 8 Tom Sanders and second rower Dominic Bird gave the hosts a 21-0 lead at the break, with full-back James Lowe, winger Toni Pulu and replacement back Sam McNicol all crossing in the last 10 minutes.
Kristian Dacey scored Wales' only try in a loss that marks Wales' heaviest defeat since 2010, when they lost 42-9 to the All Blacks.
It was a second-string Wales team, who had rested their Test stars, but equally the Chiefs were missing players away on international duty with the All Blacks.
The victory was led by former New Zealand fly-half Stephen Donald. The 32-year-old, who famously cut short a fishing trip on the Waikato river to help the All Blacks to their 2011 World Cup triumph, was replaced to a standing ovation after 68 minutes.
Making his first start of 2016, Donald kicked four out of four conversions, set up Weber's opening try and had one of his own chalked off when it was adjudged that he had not grounded the ball.
Donald was firing from the outset. In the eighth minute the fly-half weaved his way through the Welsh defence after a lineout steal and offloaded to half-back partner Brad Weber, who ran 25 metres unopposed to the posts.
Donald added the conversion and Wales had received an early reminder that even with 20 players ruled out through international commitments and injury the home side were going to be highly competitive.
Wales recovered their poise and should have scored as they dominated the rest of the opening quarter. Scrum-half Gareth Davies got to within five metres, wing Eli Walker was hauled down inches short and then No 8 James King was scragged on the line and conceded a penalty.
Having ridden their luck, the Chiefs came back onto the offensive and they ended the half with a flourish as Sanders drove over for a try at the posts before Bird crossed wide out. Donald converted both and Wales were all at sea.
Things got better in the second half as the tourists kept the ball tighter and the introduction of Taulupe Faletau and Bradley Davies added extra impetus.
Eventually they were able to make their pressure tell as they drove replacement hooker Dacey over for a try after 56 minutes which Rhys Priestland converted.
That was the high point for Wales, who then conceded three more tries before the end. Donald added a fourth conversion before leaving the field to a standing ovation and James Lowe knocked over the final conversion to make it a 33-point gap - Wales' biggest provincial defeat in New Zealand.
The second test against the All Blacks takes place in Wellington on Saturday with the third in Dunedin a week later.