Wellington overpowers Manawatu

Getty Images     04 Oct 2009     Getty Images

Wellington scored seven tries in all to Manawatu's two in an entertaining match where both teams showed a willingness to keep the ball in hand rather than put boot to it.

David Smith and Alipate Leuia crossed in the first half to give Wellington a 14-8 lead at the break.

But it cut loose in the second half with Mathewson going over twice and Cory Jane, Robbie Fruean and Daniel Ramsay all dotting down to earn the Lions a valuable bonus point.

Wellington was forced into a late change with wing Hosea Gear ruled out due to a hamstring problem and Apoua Stewart brought in on the left flank but it did not hamper the home side.

Both teams showed their intent to keep ball in hand from the kick-off.
It almost paid dividends for Manawatu early on when Aaron Cruden, in his first game back from a groin injury, darted through a huge gap.

But Scott Fuglistaller hauled him down just before the line, then stole the ball which allowed Wellington to clear its lines.

The Turbos' attacking intent proved costly in the 10th minute though when David Smith finished off a nice set-piece move from a five metre scrum to get the game's opening try.

Moments before Lote Raikabula had opted to run the ball out of his own 22 only to be swamped by the Wellington defence which put huge pressure on his side.

The Lions were able to capitalise winning the scrum close to the line the ball was fired out before and a neat pass inside to the wing put him in a gap and over. Kirkpatrick added the extras.

But Raikabula made amends not long after when the Turbos stole Wellington ball at the breakdown and the big wing's kick ricocheted off Kirkpatrick's head into the arms of Johnny Leota. He fired the pass to Raikabula who raced in at the corner.

Manawatu went close to a second try soon after thanks to a superb break by Andre Taylor.

Taylor, in at fullback for the suspended Kurt Baker, carved through the Wellington defence and only a timely hand from Cory Jane trying to intercept the pass prevented the try.

Having missed his earlier conversion attempt, Isaac Thompson then failed with a penalty and Wellington made full use of the reprieve to go down the other end and score.

All the talk in the week had been about how the Lions' lineout would be under pressure with prop Jacob Ellison being used as a make-shift lock.

But it proved to be far from the case with the second try the result of a good lineout take from Victor Vito. A smart cut-out pass from Kirkpatrick put Leuia into space and the lively centre sprinted in by the posts.

Kirkpatrick, who limped off injured shortly before the break, converted to put Wellington 14-5 ahead.

But by half-time that had been reduced to 14-8 courtesy of a Thompson penalty.
Mathewson was over for his first try shortly after the re-start following some good work by captain Ellison and Jane.

The Lions halfback then turned provider for Jane with a good steal at the breakdown leaving Smith then Jane to hack ahead before the All Black wing dotted down for the bonus-point try.

Another good take from Vito at the lineout provided the quality ball for Mathewson's second try just before the hour mark which put the Lions in an unassailable 33-8 lead.

Lions coach Jamie Joseph turned to his substitutes after that and it wasn't long before Robbie Fruean was over in the corner.

Tomasi Cama then converted his own five-pointer for Manawatu before Daniel Ramsay rounded off a good day for the Lions with a score four minutes from full-time.

Scorers were: Wellington 43 (David Smith, Alapati Leuia, Alby Mathewson 2, Cory Jane, Robbie Fruean, Daniel Ramsay tries; Daniel Kirkpatrick 2 con, Fa'atonu Fili 2 con) Manawatu 15 (Lote Raikabula, Tomasi Cama tries; Cama con; Isaac Thompson pen)