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Ben Smith scored two vintage tries before halftime, Keiran Read did a power of work and Sonny Bill Williams produced a pair of trademark offloads as three veteran All Blacks went into retirement with a bronze medal to add to their previous Rugby World Cup titles.
Six days after a semifinal loss to England ended New Zealand’s bid for a third straight world championship, the All Blacks beat Wales 40-17 on Friday in the third-place playoff.
For the last time at #RWC2019 the @AllBlacks bow to their fans pic.twitter.com/HhUO5F4zia
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 1, 2019
No surprises there. The All Blacks hadn’t lost back-to-back tests since 2011, and their last lost to Wales was 66 years ago.
A new champion will be determined Saturday in Yokohama when South Africa and England meet in a rematch of the 2007 final, which the Springboks won 15-6.
On a cool night at Tokyo Stadium, Smith, Read and Williams took cameos to cap their long careers. It was also the last match in charge for both head coaches, with Steve Hansen ending a long tenure at the All Blacks to move to Japan and Warren Gatland returning to New Zealand to coach a Super Rugby club after 12 years with Wales.
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