Wellington heads BOP in a capital romp

Getty Images     31 Aug 2008     Getty Images

On a beautiful afternoon with perfect conditions, a crowd of 15,242 turned out to see their side prevail.

The match saw both sides show great enterprise and a willingness to keep the ball in hand, leading to a thoroughly entertaining game of rugby.

Wellington came out strongly and on six minutes, skipper Piri Weepu was given his first attempt at goal. His 40-metre kick was accurate and opened the scoring at 3-0.

It wasn't until the 25th minute that the scorers were troubled again, as the match saw its opening try. An attacking Lions scrum was wheeled well by the home side and allowed Serge Lilo to gain vital metres inside the Bay of Plenty 22. Quick hands from the resulting ruck allowed the home side to spread the ball quickly which opened the space for Cory Jane to score in the corner. Weepu's boot wasn't on song this time, leaving the score at 8-0.

Bay of Plenty struck back and opened its account through a Zar Lawrence try in the 31st minute. This was just reward for the visitors, being the first time they were able to string a number of phases together in Lions territory without turning the ball over. First five-eighths Mike Delaney was unable to convert, with the try taking the score to 8-5.

The home side had the final say of the half however, with prolific left wing Hosea Gear capping a flowing backline move in the 34th minute to dot down in the corner. Weepu's boot was more accurate on this occasion, taking the scores to 15-5 at the half.

Bay of Plenty started the second stanza brightly, and had the majority of possession during the opening 10 minutes. It was able to test a resolute Lions defence but left itself vulnerable to counter attacks, which is exactly what Wellington did to add another try to its tally.

Halfback Alby Mathewson was able to clear a turnover from within his own 22, with the pace of fullback Cory Jane allowing the Lions to re-gather the kick 30m out from the Bay of Plenty line. Quick hands throughout the backline found the visitors' hopelessly outnumbered with Gear able to run in his second try of the match on 49 minutes.

The Lions continued their momentum and scored again just two minutes later. Gear completed an impressive hat-trick following another counter-attack from the home side in the 51st minute. A good run from No.8 Thomas Waldrom, and some typically quick hands, gave Gear the space to run 40m unopposed to take the score to 27-5.

The home side began to run rampant, and added its fifth try after an enterprising chip and re-gather by Jane from outside his 22 opened space for a strong run by centre Tamati Ellison. This time, Gear turned provider and off-loaded to second five-eighths Tane Tu'ipulotu to score when he only had the fullback to beat.

Big number six Victor Vito showed great strength to hold off three players and crash over following quick hands from a lineout on the visitors 22 to score his first try and then seven minutes later his strength and power was too much for a tired Bay of Plenty backline to handle.

There was a consolation prize for the Bay when halfback Jamie Nutbrown found a gap next to the Wellington ruck and sniped through to score under the uprights.

Wellington 48 (Hosea Gear 3, Victor Vito 2, Tane Tu'ipulotu, Cory Jane tries; Piri Weepu 5 cons, 1 pen) Bay of Plenty 12 (Zar Lawrence, Jamie Nutbrown tries; Mike Delaney con). HT: 15-5