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ByJohn PyeThe Associated Press
Fri., Nov. 1, 2019timer3 min. read
TOKYO—Ben Smith scored two vintage tries, Kieran 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 go with 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.
No surprises there. The All Blacks hadn’t lost back-to-back tests since 2011, and their last loss 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 take a job in Japan and Warren Gatland returning to New Zealand to coach a Super Rugby club after 12 years with Wales.
The swathe of retirements added some lustre to a match that usually is one that neither team wants to play, but also one that neither team wants to lose.
Playing his 127th and final test, Read topped the tackle count with 21, made some strong carries and enjoyed some extra space on the fringes to play the ball.
“I’ve tried to really make
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