Wellington Lions reclaim top spot
September 8, 2013
Victor Vito enjoyed success on his 50th game
© Getty Images
Wellington reclaimed top billing in the ITM Cup Premiership standings, with Victor Vito celebrating his 50th match in style as the Lions' loose forwards preyed on Northland failings to set up victory at Toll Stadium in Whangarei on Sunday.
Northland proved their own worst enemy with their failure to control the ball, best illustrated when Lions flanker Ardie Savea claimed the ball on Wellington's 22-metre line from a home lineout gone awry and sprinted more than 70 metres distant to score in the corner.
Wellington would have won by an even more convincing margin had Lima Sopoaga been more accurate kicking for goal, but the Lions fly-half missed his first five attempts.
Wellington scored after three minutes when Mike Proctor fielded a misdirected pass that fell into wide open spaces. He raced ahead and linked with second five-eighths Shaun Treeby who fed Motu Matu'u to score in the corner. Savea and fellow flanker Brad Shields combined to exploit another turnover 10 minutes later, feeding Frae Wilson who passed to Ross Filipo for the try.
Northland enjoyed their own moment after opting to take a lineout from a penalty, Tom Murday scoring after a maul and several pick-and-goes. Ben Seymour added the conversion to go with the penalty goal he had landed earlier, and the score was level for five minutes before Savea's try.
Northland had a bright spell in the 10 minutes after half-time, with almost total occupation of Wellington territory, but they came away with nothing as Wellington cleared and replacement wing Ambrose Curtis scored the bonus-point try in the 54th minute. Curtis then did well to build on tidy work by fullback Charlie Ngatai, splitting the defence and feeding centre Tim Bateman to round Northland's Rene Ranger to score.
The game had a significant injury toll, and it was significant that Northland's effort fell off after flanker Jack Ram was helped from the field with a knee injury. Proctor suffered a similar fate for Wellington while Filipo sustained a bad thumb injury.
Frae Wilson enjoyed success behind a dominant Wellington pack © Getty Images
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter