Planet Rugby

Wellington back to winning ways

14th August 2010 11:40

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Lions: Get their mojo back

Wellington gave departing coach Jamie Joseph a winning send-off with a convincing 35-22 victory over Otago at Carisbrook on Saturday.

The Lions outscored the home side four tries to three to earn their first bonus-point win of the 2010 ITM Cup season and also retain the Mike Gibson Memorial Trophy.

Exciting wing prospect Julian Savea scored two well-taken tries and fly-half Fa'atonu Fili kicked 15 points, including a decisive penalty from halfway early in the second half after Otago had closed to within two points immediately after the turnaround.

The Lions held their composure throughout the second half to pull clear over the middle period and defended well at the end in warding off a late Otago rally.

The home side had made the best possible start in the opening minute of the match through centre Josh Tatupu who ran on to a well-weighted stab kick by pivot Glenn Dickson to create a 5-0 lead.

Wellington went close to striking back immediately through full-back Apoua Stewart who was bundled into touch near the corner flag in a try saving tackle.

The Lions maintained pressure in Otago's territory, leading to a big run up into the 22 by number eight Faifili Levave which created their first try that was scored by lock Jeremy Thrush after a recycle at the breakdown and slick passing across the posts.

Fili kicked the difficult conversion from near the sideline to put the Lions ahead 7-5 after 18 minutes.

This was followed by a great individual try to Savea started from 60 metres out. The Lions speedter received a Fili pass from a shortside ruck, took off up past halfway and then chipped, chased and regathered to score the try.

Fili kicked his second conversion to extend their lead to 14-5.

Fili added a penalty to make it 17-5, before a bust inside Wellington's 22 by Otago centre Ben Smith created a try for full-back Chris Small. This was converted by Dickson to whittle the deficit back to five points after 32 minutes.

In an open-paced first half, both sides created further chances but defences held firm and the Lions went into half-time holding their two tries to one lead.

Dickson opened the scoring after half-time with a penalty, closing the gap to 17-15, before Fili replied with an impressive penalty from halfway that re-establishing the half-time margin.

Savea grabbed his brace running on to a clever Fili kick-pass out to his wing, after a series of one-off runs - led by captain Neemia Tialata and openside flanker Scott Fuglistaller - made big roads into Otago's red zone.

Halfback Alby Mathewson combined with Levave off the back of an attacking scrum and scampered 20 metres to score the Lions' bonus-point try. Fili's conversion from in front of the uprights took them to 32-15 ahead.

Fili's sixth kick from seven attempts courtesy of a scrum infringement penalty pushed the advantage out to 20 points with 15 minutes remaining.

Tatupu was held up over the line going for his second try for Otago in a strong tackle by Savea. The home side kept the heat on and eventually sent wing Fetu Vainikolo over in the same corner of play.

Dickson kicked the conversion to shave Wellington's lead to 22-35, meaning they now needed to score two converted tries over the final several minutes.

In a tight finish, Otago quickly climbed back on to attack and went desperately close to scoring a try and creating a tight finish but the Lions' defence held out and they held on for their second win in three ITM Cup games.

The scorers:

For Otago:
Tries: Tatupu, Small, Vainikolo
Cons: Dickson 2
Pen: Dickson

For Wellington:
Tries: Thrush, Savea 2, Mathewson
Cons: Fili 3
Pens: Fili 3

Otago: 15 Chris Small, 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Josh Tatupu, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Glenn Dickson, 9 Sean Romans, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Alando Soakai (c), 6 Paul Grant, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Sam Hibbard, 2 Peter Mirrielees, 1 Kees Meeuws.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Blair Young, 18 Seko Kalou, 19 Brad Cameron, 20 Johnny Legg, 21 Andrew Parata, 22 Joe Hill.

Wellington: 15 Apoua Stewart, 14 Julian Salvea, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Fa'atonu Fili, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Mark Reddish, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata (c), 2 Dane Coles, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: Ged Robinson, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Api Naikatini, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Ruki Tipuna, 21 Hayden Cripps, 22 Alapati Leuia.

Referee: James McPhail

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