Wellington has made an early statement of intent in the first round of the ITM Cup, by thrashing Manawatu 30-11 in a Hurricanes derby at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North tonight.
Manawatu went unbeaten at the 'Boneyard' in last season's round-robin Championship but tonight they couldn't get close to a win - as Wellington ran in three tries to one.
The Wellington side featured 11 current Super Rugby players and their big names all stood up against an experienced Manawatu starting XV which boasted a combined 499 caps.
All three Wellington tries came from set pieces - an area that Manawatu will desperately need to improve if they are to have any success this season.
The homeside looked sharp for the opening 10 minutes, and a staggering 91% possession advantage was rewarded when Nathan George kicked his side in-front with his first ever penalty at ITM level.
But from there it was all Wellington, and their exciting blend of youth and experience opened up the Manawatu defence time and time again.
Eighteen year-old Ardie Savea capped an impressive debut by scoring the first try of the match in the 25th minute - using his strength to take the the ball from the back of the scrum, break tackles and charge over the line.
Nine minutes later Shaun Treeby increased Wellington's lead to 11 points, linking up with Alapati Leiua off another set piece for the best try of the night.
Wellington put the result out of doubt in the second half after a try to captain Jeremy Thrush and two penalties from Jason Woodward increased the gap to 24 points.
David Te Moana scored a consolation try for Manawatu in the 77th minute, showing good strength from three metres out to bundle over with the help of his fellow forwards.
Manawatu 11 (David Te Moana try; Nathan George 2 pens) Wellington 30 (Ardie Savea; Shaun Treeby; Jeremy Thrush; Jason Woodward 3 pens, 3 cons)
- HERALD ONLINE