Lions confirm top seeding for finals
October 5, 2013
Wellington's Tomasi Palu congratulates Shaun Treeby after the latter's breakaway try
© Getty Images
Wellington will head into the ITM Cup Premiership play-offs as the No.1 seeds after claiming a once-sided victory from their top-of-the-table match against Auckland at Westpac Stadium. The Lions have now won all of their nine matches this season, and they cannot be knocked off top spot during the final round.
Wellington put plenty of heat on the Auckland set-piece, while Ardie Savea produced an outstanding performance as he scored one of the hosts' four tries. The match also featured the return of All Blacks winger Cory Jane eight months after he suffered a knee injury during the Hurricanes' pre-season, but the 43-Test winger, who played off the bench at the start of the second half, was largely a spectator as play didn't go his way.
Wellington and Auckland traded penalties before the Lions, up 9-6, blew the contest open with two tries in the second quarter. Savea snared a turnover in his own half and Shaun Treeby showed good speed to scamper 50 metres to score, then the Lions gained just reward after turned down a shot at another penalty goal just ahead of half-time. They opted instead for a lineout, and the decision paid dividends as they drove Api Naikatini over for a try that took them out to a 21-6 lead.
Savea touched down in the 48th minute when he pounced on a loose ball, before the Lions took advantage of being a man up to get their bonus-point try. With Melani Nanai in the sin-bin for a no-arms tackle, Wellington kept the ball alive for Motu Matu'u to score nine minutes from full-time.
The visitors had the last say, with Nathan Vella getting a consolation try. Auckland's defeat means defending champions Canterbury can climb above them to second on the ladder when they host Counties Manukau on Sunday.
Wellington's Eric Sione takes a tackle as the Lions dominated Auckland in the forwards © Getty Images
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9