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Ahead of their game with the defending champions the team put on an impressive display to claim a 34-8 bonus point win over Argentina.
But after witnessing the Baby Blacks’ 64-7 demolition of Italy, Appleyard says they must up their game if they want to get anything from the contest in Rovigo.
He said: “For the first game of the tournament, it was a good outcome.
“There were elements of the performance that were very good but I felt we were also a little inconsistent at times.
“We’re going to go back and be quite critical because New Zealand is a much sterner test for us and we need to tighten up on the errors we made.
“If you want to do well in any competition, you have to do well against the best teams.
“It will be a high-paced, physical game on Tuesday, New Zealand are a formidable force but we have to match that.
“We showed against Argentina that our backline functioned well, with Matthew Morgan and other backs making scything breaks, but our forwards fronted up too and our defence stood up well so we’ve just got to make sure we bring that physicality to the table now when the stakes are higher.”
Wales are hoping to improve on their seventh place finish at last year’s World Championships by qualifying for the semi-finals, with the three pool winners and the best-runner up across the three groups going through.
Captain Macauley Cook was full of praise for his teammates and was pleased to claim the bonus point that could prove vital in their bid to reach the last four, but echoed his coach’s calls for an improved performance.
The Cardiff Blues lock added: “We now have to continue to train hard before playing New Zealand on Tuesday. There are some things we need to sort out before then - it is sure to be the hardest game of our lives – but if we keep working hard we can hopefully put in another good performance and do well.”
Cook also hopes that a good tournament for the team could see some of the players break into the full international team.
He said: “A lot of players have played in this tournament and gone onto bigger and better things, such as Wales internationals Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies.
“I don’t see any reason why players in this side can’t do the same thing.”
Meanwhile, hooker Sam Parry has returned home from the championships after being diagnosed with mumps. He flew home on Sunday after spending a few days confined in isolation.
He will be replaced in the squad by Cross Keys and Dragons academy hooker Jamie Sollis.
Wales team v New Zealand: Liam Williams (Llanelli); Iolo Evans (Scarlets / Llanelli) Owen Williams (Blues / Cardiff), Lewis Robling (Dragons / Newport), Dale Ford (Scarlets / Llanelli); Steve Shingler (London Irish), Lewis Jones (Blues / Pontypridd); Rhodri Jones (Scarlets / Llanelli), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets / Llanelli), WillGriff John (Blues/ Pontypridd), Lloyd Peers (capt, Ospreys/ Bridgend), Cory Hill (Blues / Pontypridd), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Thomas Young (Blues / Cardiff), Owen Sheppeard (Blues / Pontypridd).
Replacements: Jamie Sollis (Dragons / Cross Keys), WillTaylor (Ospreys / Swansea), Macauley Cook (Blues / Cardiff), Luke Hamilton (Blues / Glamorgan), Jonathan Evans (Dragons / Newport), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys / Swansea), Ross Jones (Ospreys / Bridgend)