The All Blacks scored 21 unanswered points in a dominant second half display that cancelled out the visitors’ solid first half performance. Waisake Naholo scored a brace as New Zealand won comfortably 39-21 in the end, maintaining the winning record since 1953.
Wales started the better of the two sides with an early try to number eight Toby Faletau, but Julian Savea hit back, with Kieran Read and Nathan Harris also scoring for the hosts.
Both teams had tries disallowed in a fascinating period of play in the second half, but Wales could not keep up with the World Champions, who aserted their dominance to take the first Test despite missing superstars Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma’a Nonu, who have all moved on.
“It was what we expected. Wales were fired up and it was a reminder you’ve got to work hard,” said New Zealand captain Kieran Read. “The boys had a really good attitude in the second half.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland said that his players will have learned a lot up against the best.
“It’s the learning you take from playing against the best team in the world and sometimes the learning takes place out in the middle. It doesn’t matter what we do on the training field and as coaches, you’ve got to be out there in the middle and experience the relentlessness that the All Blacks bring.
“We feel like we get better the longer we are together. Players don’t have that many games at that level of intensity. They get to experience it a lot more than us and are familiar and comfortable with that.”
Wales play a midweek game against the Chiefs on Tuesday followed by the second Test againt the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.