ITM Cup: Young Savea sparkles

By Patrick McKendry

In only his second ITM Cup game Ardie Savea delivered a glimpse of what he might produce.

The younger brother of All Blacks wing Julian, Savea grabbed two tries as he helped Wellington beat Southland 40-8 in the capital on Saturday.

Ardie Savea may only be 18 and one year out of Rongotai College, but he showed plenty of maturity in his performance in front of 5692 people at Westpac Stadium.

Aside from his brace of five-pointers he was also dangerous with ball in hand at openside flanker and made one impressive line break in the first spell.

He also showed his versatility given he played the opening game of the campaign at No8.

The Lions were on the board in the first five minutes through a penalty from Jason Woodward.

The fullback booted another three points a few minutes later before Southland's Marty McKenzie opened his side's account, but with the score 6-3 in favour of the Lions, Wellington took over the game.

Man of the match Alapati Leiua scored the first of his two tries in the 15th minute when he charged down a Jimmy Cowan kick.

Savea then got his first for the day shortly after and Woodward's right foot kept the scoreboard ticking to a healthy 23-3 lead.

The second spell started slowly as both teams failed to string phases together before Savea and Leiua set the game alight again.

Savea finished off a decent spell on attack from Wellington as he grabbed the ball from the base of a ruck and skipped through a couple of tackles to score under the posts.

After Leiua was put in to a narrow corridor of space by Woodward he put a grubber kick through and beat the cover defence to the ball and flew over to score again. Substitute hooker Dane Coles also crossed late in proceedings.

An eight-try win for Auckland over a hapless Manawatu yesterday and coach Wayne Pivac has suggested we can expect the ITM Cup points-scoring avalanche to continue.

Auckland got their season back on track with their first match at Eden Park for 2012 featuring four tries in each half - fullback Charles Piutau collecting a hat-trick - and nine out of nine kicks at goal.

After a difficult Super Rugby season with the Blues and slow start to the ITM Cup, first-five Gareth Anscombe played well, kicking seven from seven as he helped his side to a 59-16 win.

If there were any doubts about Canterbury after their surprise opening round defeat to Tasman, they have been erased over the course of the past few days.

In that time, the red-and-blacks have beaten Auckland and North Harbour to surge up the Premiership table and they've done it on the back of a combined 69-14 scoreline. They beat Harbour 36-3.

They haven't always looked fluid but they shift the ball at a pace most sides struggle to contend with and have enough quality in their ranks to be able to execute that game plan.

The Ranfurly Shield has seen some wonderfully rugged and dour encounters in its 109-year history. This was not one of them.

The tone of the match on Saturday was set in the opening 30 seconds, when Blade Thomson rounded off a break by the classy Beauden Barrett and continued at an incredible pace.

Taranaki had their four-try bonus point inside 25 minutes and Tasman weren't far behind, as both teams played attacking, running rugby. The final score was 49-40.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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