Hamilton – New Zealand Rugby World Cup hero Stephen Donald wound back the clock on Tuesday to lead the Chiefs to a 40-7 victory over Wales in Hamilton.
Wales coach Warren Gatland lined up the mid-week fixture as a chance for players not required for last Saturday’s first Test in Auckland to push for selection for the remaining two Tests.
But it was the performance of former All Blacks flyhalf Donald that stole the limelight as the Chiefs outscored Wales six tries to one.
There has already been a film made about the life story of the New Zealand folk-hero who kicked the winning penalty in the 2011 World Cup final, and the 32-year-old showed there is room for another chapter.
He had a hand in all the decisive moments as the Chiefs survived on scraps of possession and when he left the field stricken with cramp late in the game, Donald received a standing ovation.
“My little calves couldn’t get me the distance,” said Donald, who has only played 35 minutes of Super Rugby this year.
“It wasn’t pretty. We seemed to defend for probably 80 percent of the game but this group of battlers did well.”
Disappointed Wales skipper Luke Charteris said the tourists could offer no excuses for the heavy defeat.
“They gave us a lesson. It was a tough lesson to take. We’ll have to go back and take a look at it and look at ourselves. It’s not acceptable to lose like that,” he said.
Donald crossed for one try, which was disallowed because television replays could not show he grounded the ball, and had a hand in the three that were confirmed as well as landing the conversions as the Chiefs led 21-0 at half-time.
It took Wales until the 55th minute to get on the board when replacement hooker Kristian Dacey barged over to finish off a lineout drive with Rhys Priestland adding the extras.
As Wales emptied their bench they controlled the next 10 minutes but despite the efforts of Priestland, Aaron Jarvis and Charteris they could not breach the Chiefs’ defence.
Instead it was Donald, battling cramp, who sparked the Chiefs next try when he attacked the Welsh line to set up the move ending with James Lowe crossing the line.
Donald added the conversion before leaving the field and leaving Toni Pulu and Sam McNicol to add he final two tries.
The loss to Chiefs, following the 39-21 defeat in the first Test, provided few answers for Gatland looking for a way to beat the All Blacks in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.
Tries: Brad Weber, Tom Sanders, Dominic Bird, James Lowe, Toni
Pulu, Sam McNicol
Conversions: Stephen Donald (4), Lowe
Try: Kristian Dacey
Conversion: Rhys Priestland