Mixed fortunes for Wales this weekend saw a spirited U20s side fall to the Baby Blacks, whilst the senior side recorded a third consecutive victory over South Africa.
Despite a promising start from the U20s,Wales were unable to stop the rampant Baby Blacks on a thoroughly wet afternoon in Béziers, the Kiwis winning by 42 points to 10.
Reigning champions New Zealand opened the scores early with Billy Proctor racing over the line for the try in less than five minutes played with Harry Plummer converting.
Wales could have been in with a shout of a penalty try four minutes later, as fullback Cai Evans's would-be scoring pass to Joe Goodchild seemed to have been deliberately knocked on by Bailyn Sullivan. Instead, the Baby Blacks received a yellow card.
The Kiwis were penalised again, this time for illegally disrupting Wales' maul. Under pressure, New Zealand were penalised a third time, and Wales made them pay as number eight Taine Basham dived over in the corner for the tightest of tries. Evans knocked over a magnificent conversion from out wide to level the scores at 7-7.
Dane Blacker then took a quick tap penalty inside his half, and with support out wide from wing Ryan Conbeer, kicked the ball deep into the 22, forcing New Zealand to knock on. Wales won the free kick at the scrum and moved the ball out into midfield, where they won a penalty after a high tackle. Evans slotted the three points inside the opposition 22 to take the lead: 7-10.
Plummer levelled the scores when Wales failed to roll away at the ruck. Wales then saw a knock-on turn into a penalty as one of their men inadvertently played the loose ball from an offside position. Despite a relentless Welsh defence, New Zealand conjured an overlap and scored through wing Sullivan. No conversion kept the scores 15-10.
Sullivan was continuing to show his worth to New Zealand, sprinting to the corner before offloading to captain Tom Christie for the score. Plummer converted the openside's effort. New Zealand blindside Tom Florence received a yellow card for a high tackle to hand Wales the advantage.
But New Zealand were able to end the half with a penalty from Plummer to take the Kiwis 15 points ahead at half time.
As the rain hammered down for the start of the second half, Wales lost the services of influential fullback Evans - who had put his body on the line so bravely for the cause through the first 40 - only minutes into the second half, after his face collided with an opposition leg.The loss of Evans did allow 18-year-old Dewi Cross to make his U20 debut.
It was a full 23 minutes before the first points were scored in the second act, and it was Plummer who provided them with a successful penalty kick at goal. The men in black might well have put the game out of Wales' reach when they followed that kick with a charge-down try by replacement prop Tevita Mafile'o, with Plummer adding the extras for a score of 35-10 with 13 minutes left.
Wales lost a man to the sin bin with five minutes left, which was just the advantage New Zealand needed to score their fifth and final try of the match - and an easy one for Plummer to convert. Next up for Wales is Japan on Thursday 17:30 BST.
Elsewhere Wales senior side kicked off their summer tour with a hard fought 22-20 victory over South Africa in Washington D.C.
Warren Gatland's side will now travel to Argentina full of confidence. Hallam Amos, Tomos Williams and Ryan Elias crossed for Wales' tries while Gareth Anscombe scored seven points.
The Springboks scored two tries of their own with Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi both crossing on their test debuts. Elton Jantjies opened the scoring for South Africa with a straightforward penalty after Tom Prydie had sealed off at the preceding ruck. With the game descending into a slugfest Wales scored two tries in three minutes to take control of this test match.
The first try came as a result of captain Ellis Jenkins pinching the ball from the ruck in the South African 22. The ball was recycled with Hadleigh Parkes and Ross Moriarty showing good hands to put Dragons full back Amos over.
Wales now had the bit between their teeth and after stringing some phases together Cardiff Blues scrum half Williams wriggled his way over the try line to score on his international debut. The Springboks pushed hard to narrow the deficit on the stroke of half time with a series of powerful surges on the Wales line.
But openside flanker Jenkins was again to the fore winning a penalty at the breakdown meaning Wales turned around 14-3 ahead at the interval. It took only three minutes of the second half for South Africa to cross the whitewash with Ismaiel intercepting a loose pass from Amos to run in unopposed.
But Anscombe further extended Wales' lead with a penalty attempt after the Springboks had infringed at the tackle area.
Gatland's side were then reduced to 14 men when Owen Watkin was sent to the sin bin for deliberately knocking the ball over his own dead ball line after being pressured by Jesse Kriel.
After a series of dominant scrums Mapimpi crossed at the far-left hand corner with Jantjies successful with a touchline conversion meaning the scores were level at 17-17 going into the final quarter. The South African forwards began to dominate their Welsh opponents as they attempted to drive their way over the try line.
With Wales under severe pressure Ismaiel appeared to cross at the right-hand corner but was forced into touch by Cory Hill. Robert Du Preez put South Africa into the lead with a penalty attempt from right in front of the posts.But just as the Springboks looked to be heading for victory Elias touched down for Wales after a charge down from Williams. The Springboks pushed hard for the win but Wales held out to record a notable victory.