Rugby

NZ primed to put 'exclamation mark' on series

2016-06-24 12:25
Kieran Read (Getty Images)

Dunedin - All Blacks captain Kieran Read believes his side are primed to complete a 3-0 whitewash in the final Test against a battered Wales unit still clinging to the hope of an upset win.

The much-changed All Blacks want to put "an exclamation mark on the series", Read said, describing the feeling in the world champions' camp.

With the series already wrapped up with convincing wins in the first two Tests, New Zealand have made 12 changes to the match-day 23 with an eye to grooming combinations ahead of the Rugby Championship which starts in August.

But despite the green tinge to a squad that includes three uncapped players and another four with only 11 Tests between them, Read expected an improved performance in what promises to be a fast-paced game in an enclosed Dunedin stadium.

The All Blacks clinched the first Test with a withering three-try burst at the end, and took control of the second Test with a four-try blitz early in the second half.

Around the scoring sprees, Wales were competitive, particularly at the breakdown, and Read said the All Blacks want to end the series by having more control early.

"The boys, as a team, want to go out there and really deliver a great performance to put an exclamation mark on the series," he said at the end of their final training run on Friday.

Wales "will back themselves as well. They've certainly done that, so we've got to try and get on top of them a bit quicker than what we have done in the last couple of games."

The All Blacks scored 10 tries over the first two Tests, double Wales's total, and Read wanted another "performance that can really be physically demanding on the Welsh".

For Wales, it is the last chapter in an arduous year that has seen them play 17 Tests from the time they started their build-up to the World Cup last year.

In addition to losing in Auckland and Wellington, they have also had six players return home because of injury.

But as much as the tourists were looking forward to getting on the plane out of New Zealand on Sunday, assistant coach Neil Jenkins said they still harboured thoughts of beating the All Blacks for the first time since 1953.

"If we keep improving, keep evolving and if we keep doing what we're doing, I have no doubts we can be thereabouts," he said.

"It's been a long hard year for them but, again, they've learned a hell of a lot about themselves.

"When you play the best side in the world on their own patch, and play the way that we have played and tried to play, we're only going to grow and learn.

"I'm sure the guys, once the final whistle goes, they'll have a couple of beers and enjoy the rest. The boys will enjoy their holidays after it."

Read more on:    all blacks  |  kieran read  |  rugby

 

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