Match report: Wellington power to another maximum
September 13, 2008
Wellington made it seven bonus point wins out of seven matches with a 45-33 victory over Waikato at the Westpac Stadium.
Wellington maintained their unbeaten run in rugby's Air NZ Cup and Hosea Gear continued his try-scoring binge in a comprehensive 45-33 win over Waikato here tonight.
Competition leaders Wellington came out on top in a free-running try-fest of 12 tries as the Lions build momentum towards next Saturday's Ranfurly Shield clash with Auckland.
A bonus point down after less than 20 minutes, Waikato fought back with great heart to keep Wellington honest, pressuring them at the breakdowns and answering try with try right to the final whistle.
Tane Tu'ipulotu opened the scoring for Wellington after a bullocking run from Thomas Waldrom linked with Tamati Ellison, who unloaded for Tu'ipulotu to score.
From then on it was all Wellington. The Lions ran at will, with Fa'atonu Fili, Ellison and fullback Cory Jane all crossing in the first 20 minutes to put Wellington 26-0 up before Waikato managed to get their hands on the ball for any length of time.
Winger Tim Mikkelson crossed after halfback Malcolm Barnes took a quick tap. Callum Bruce converted, then lock Toby Lynn narrowed Wellington's lead at halftime to 26-12, holding on to a Savenaca Tokula flick infield as he was tackled into touch metres from the try line.
The Lions started the second half strongly -- hooker Dane Coles celebrating his return from the broken leg he sustained in Wellington's second round clash with North Harbour by chasing down an Albie Mathewson kick to open the scoring.
But Waikato fullback Dwayne Sweeney scorted again to cut the margin before Gear scored his ninth try in seven games.
Wellington's occasionally patchy defence held true against sustained Waikato pressure with just on 20 minutes to go, but as the Lions' attack broke free and surged downfield, winger Savenaca Tokula snatched up an intercept and offloaded in Jane's tackle for Trent Renata to score.
But every time Waikato threatened, Wellington responded and Ellison notched up his second try in finishing off a wide-ranging Lions move in the closing minutes to score the Capital's seventh try.
Bruce crossed soon after, converting his own try to take his personal tally for the game to 13 points.
Result of an Air NZ Cup match played in Wellington tonight:
Wellington 45 (Tamati Ellison 2, Tane Tu'ipulotu, Fa'atonu Fili, Cory Jane, Dane Coles, Hosea Gear tries; Fili 5 con) Waikato 33 (Tim Mikkelson, Toby Lynn, Dwayne Sweeney, Trent Renata, Callum Bruce tries; Bruce 4 con). Halftime: 26-12.
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
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship