Sportal.co.nz 10.Sep.2009Getty Images
Wellington had another night to forget, just as it did when conceding the Ranfurly Shield to Canterbury, with poor passing and catching reducing its chances of striking back against a stirred up home team.
When the home team sniffed its chance to make an impact on the record books, it lifted the tempo of the game and instead of opening up gaps, it found more devil in defence to further frustrate the Wellingtonians.
Three times in the last 10 minutes Wellington backs were pushed out in the corner by desperate Taranaki defenders.
Leading the way was ferocious No.8 Jarrad Hoeata while flankers Scott Waldrom and John Willis were dominant in the loose while first five-eighths Willie Ripia enjoyed a superb night with the boot, landing five penalty goals and two conversions.
After the respective first five-eighths, Daniel Kirkpatrick for Wellington and Willie Ripia for the home team, had exchanged penalty goals, Wellington launched a strong attack in the Taranaki 22m area.
But as Fruean attempted to pass to win David Smith, the ball was plucked from the air by Taranaki fullback Jack Cameron and he ran hard for 80m to score with Ripia adding the conversion.
Another exchange of penalty goals preceded a long period on attack by Wellington and finally the try came, although not as convincingly as it would have liked with a five-metre scrum for a launching pad.
It took impetus provided by two long passes, by Fitzpatrick and Smith to give left wing Alapeta Leiua a chance to cut back inside. While the Taranaki players secured the ball at the breakdown, Fruean arrived and ripped the ball from flanker John Willis to corkscrew over the line to score.
Kirkpatrick added a sideline conversion before landing a long-range penalty goal a minute before halftime.
Taranaki struck almost from the re-start when from a lineout close to Wellington's line, the visitors threw the ball long and when it glanced off a Wellington hand, it dropped clear for flanker Willis to swoop and take the ball over the line to score.
Wellington failed to put the ball to best use and one of the best acts of the game came when wing Ed Jenkins ran into the backline and opened Wellington up. It took a superb tackle from Leiua on Jenkins, and another on fast following flanker Scott Waldrom to kill the move.
However, Wellington infringed in subsequent play and Ripia landed the goal to carry Taranaki out to 23-16.
From the re-start it was No.8 Jarrad Hoeta who turned up the heat with two strong runs to take play back into Wellingon's 22m area again.
Taranaki 29 (Jack Cameron, John Willis tries; Willie Ripia 2 con, 5 pen) Wellington 16 (Robbie Fruean try; Daniel Kirkpatrick con, 3 pen). HT: 13-16