Stephen Jones kicked off for Wales but within two minutes it was advantage New Zealand, as some desperate rackling from Wales against Joe Rockocoko on the left wing produced a scrum which in turn set up the opening All Black try. Rockocoko smashes ovee the line and Leon MacDonald duely added the two points conversion.
New Zealand continued to spread the ball around with a swagger, when the early Welsh misery was compounded further by an injury to Garan Evans who was forced to leave the field after only four minutes. Gareth Thomas made the switch to full back and thus followed a period of excellent ball retention by Wales as they grew in confidence and camped out in the New Zealand 22.
Alix Popham nearly scored but fell short of the line, seconds later Gareth Thomas was inches closer than Popham but dropped the ball at the crucial moment. Then, with a third of the first half over, Stephen Jones produced a neat chip of the ball, passed to Shanklin, who took the hit before offloading to Adam Jones. Several quick hands later and Jonathan Thomas found the perfect pass to Mark taylor who scored Wales's response. Stephen Jones responded also with a conversion and it was 7-all; game on.
The feel good factor lasted all of seconds as Rockocoko crashed over the line from the restart and caught Wales napping; but the 14-7 lead was pegged back to 14-10 within minutes as Stephen Jones responded with a successful penalty.
After 20 minutes, Leon MacDonald is fed on the blindside and produces New Zealand's third try. Ten minutes later, a high kick was caught above Shane Williams by namesake Ali who produced New Zealand's fourth.
Wales were eighteen points adrift and beginning to look out of sight, but Wales had learnt from their opening exchanges that quick free-flowing rugby might be the tool with which they could dismantle the All Black machine.
Four minutes after being beaten Ali Williams, Shane Williams was able to make amends by producing a jinking run to set up Shanklin who in turn set up Sonny Parker for Wales's second try. It would be Parker's last contribution as he left the field nursing a shoulder injury.
Shane Williams, clearly fired up by the heroics of Parker's try then left New Zealand for dead a second time to set up a prolonged passage of play on their 22. When New Zealand were penalised at the breakdown, Jones elected to kick for the corner and some perfect line-out handling saw Popham feed Colin Charvis for Wales's fourth try.
The half time whistle blew 24-28, with eight tries already on the scoresheet, and Wales only four points adrift in a match many had expected them to capitulate.
Two minutes into the restart Wales had pegged things back to one point after Stephen Jones slotted home a penalty. Four minutes after the restart, and Wales were in dreamland, Ceri Sweeney made a searing break into the New Zealand half and set up a move which culminated in Gareth Thomas slipping a missed pass wide to Shane Williams for try number five. Williams redemption was complete.
The try woke New Zealand from their half time slumber, and they came back to within a point within three minutes with a non-converted try for 34-33, but Wales stretched the lead again minutes later with a penalty from Stephen Jones.
In spite of many hopes that this was the day the losing sequence would end, those were the last points Wales would score.
With twenty minutes left to go Carlos Spencer grabbed the ball and dummied nicely to put New Zealand back in the lead. Wales weren't entirely spent and Jonathan Thomas produced a good drive into the New Zealand 22 once again, and then on 69 minutes Wales received a kick in the teeth as Howlett was awarded a try even though TV replays suggested the pass he received was forward.
A further penalty was conceded after Gethin Jenkins rushed in at the side of a ruck and as Wales tired in the final quarter New Zealand delivered the killer blow between the posts as Aaron Mauger scored to produced a 37-53 final score once MacDonald had added the conversion.
The contest had been close, Wales had returned to a style of running rugby not seen in years, and there was a great feeling of optimism about the quarter-final with England that beckoned seven days away.