The All Blacks convincingly beat Wales 40-17 in the bronze playoff match at the Rugby World Cup. Here's how the world media reacted:

New Zealand show their class

"In a World Cup third-place play-off that offered little in the way of significance or tension, Wales found themselves on the familiar side of history.

"Much of the conversation before the encounter had been whether the men in red, after 66 long years, would finally be able to get one over their opponents here in Tokyo. But against a superior and incisive All Blacks side, one still smarting from their semi-final defeat by England, it wasn't to be.

Premium gold

"For Gatland, who leaves his position after 12 long years in charge of Wales, this was not the World Cup swansong he will have wanted. Despite the spirit and fight showcased by his men, as embodied in both of their gutsy tries, the gulf in quality was too wide to turn this match into a closely-fought contest.

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"But this is not the performance Gatland will be remembered for. His influence as head coach has been transformative over the past decade, having stripped the Welsh of their underdog status, led them to four Six Nations titles and ever so briefly lifted them to No 1 in the world. The Kiwi's legacy will live long beyond the scenes of this particular affair."

Gatland's sad goodbye

"It's not the way you would have wanted Warren Gatland's time at the helm to end, but you kind of feared this would happen.

"The worry was it would be a game too far for this injury-ravaged Wales team and so it proved as they leaked six tries against a New Zealand side that was just too hot to handle.

"Defensively, it was a pretty soft display from Gatland's gang, as they missed 34 tackles in all.

"To their credit, they did stick at, demonstrating their bravery and fitness levels, while also showing more in attack than they have for much of this World Cup.

"But ultimately, the came second best by some distance."

A more ruthless edge

"New Zealand demonstrated a more ruthless edge, with Wales not capitalising on territory and possession superiority.

"Defence coach Shaun Edwards will also be unhappy at Wales missing more than 30 tackles.

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"Four attacks, four tries, ruthless stuff from the All Blacks as Wales missed 21 tackles in the first half, defensive lapses proving a symptom of their World Cup campaign."

NZ 'swat' Wales aside

"The fervour for the All Blacks here remains undimmed. Their kit supplier has twice run out of replica jerseys such has been the demand.

"Hansen spoke afterwards about how he hoped that in the future rugby would be governed with the global game in mind rather than the Six Nations. Japan may hold the key to that and, after a World Cup unlike any other before it, things may never be the same again.

"Wales, playing New Zealand five days after losing to South Africa, were outclassed - but a quality they have honed in the Gatland era is defiance."

NZME media

The All Blacks' 'what if' moments

"It was never going to feel great, but at least the All Blacks felt a little bit good about beating Wales to collect a bronze medal that they may not even bother taking home from Japan.

"They felt a little bit good because they did exactly what they wanted. They played with commitment. With passion, with urgency and freedom.

"They played well and they played with the sort of energy and resilience that said they have the character they hoped they did.

"They played so well in fact that they made it impossible not to have a few what-if moments: the brain unable to help itself from seeing the All Blacks zip the ball about, ran the sharpest angles and wonder where all that was last week.

Near perfect night for Ben Smith

"Deep scars remain but, tonight at least, there will be some sense of satisfaction for the All Blacks. No one more so than Ben Smith.

"Nothing the All Blacks did in their World Cup playoff for bronze can erase last week's semifinal failure. That hurt they may never shake. Not for four years, anyway.

"But against an admittedly second-string Welsh side, missing six frontline starters through injury, the All Blacks did respond to their test of character.

"For Smith and the host of departing All Blacks – Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams along with coach Steve Hansen and Mike Cron – this final test offered a farewell they will appreciate."

End of an era

"After the All Black tears in Yokohama, a little bit of joy in Tokyo. This Rugby World Cup bronze playoff victory over Wales means very little in the big scheme of things, and it won't make up for last weekend's semifinal devastation at the hands of England, but there was joy nonetheless tonight and pride too.

"There will be a satisfaction that Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Smith have been farewelled in an appropriate manner. Read, who ran on with a smile on his face and was looking as happy as he has all week, led the haka in his 127th and final test, with the other three also heavily involved as the All Blacks maintained their winning record over Wales, who last tasted success way back in 1953."

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