Ben Smith Ben Smith sparkles as New Zealand seal third-place spot

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New Zealand 40

Wales 17

A BRONZE MEDAL was never going to be any great consolation for New Zealand after being unceremoniously flung from off their World Cup throne. But the manner of their win in this morning’s third-place play-off may lead to more painful ‘what-ifs’ for Steve Hansen.

Veteran Ben Smith – excluded from the 23 to face England while Sevu Reece, George Bridge and Jordie Barrett were togged out – starred in this six-try win, producing two exceptional finishes before being denied a third as he underlined the enduring quality that will now grace Pau and the Top14.

Ryan Crotty was similarly shelved last weekend while Hansen maintained trust in the centre pairing that had torn through an off-colour Ireland. He combined with Sonny

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