Rugby: Wellington win fifth in a row

By Daniel Richardson

Wellington produced their fifth bonus-point win of the season in as many games as they brushed past Northland 30-10 in Whangarei today. Photo / Getty Images.
Wellington produced their fifth bonus-point win of the season in as many games as they brushed past Northland 30-10 in Whangarei today. Photo / Getty Images.

Wellington 30
Northland 10

Chris Boyd is still waiting for his Wellington Lions to let out a full roar.

They produced their fifth bonus-point win of the season in as many games as they brushed past Northland 30-10 in Whangarei today but they're still yet to hit their stride despite sitting atop the Premiership standings of the ITM Cup.

You could argue they're building nicely so Boyd has nothing to worry about but they've drifted in and out of games this season and lacked polish.

Their individual brilliance and stacked roster has got them through a couple of close encounters this season and coach Boyd will be hoping his side can put all their ducks in a row when they host the high-flying Canterbury in two weeks in what shapes as a true test.

In the first half this afternoon, Northland had plenty of territory and their fair share of possession but their execution was lacking at key moments.

It was from a Northland error that Wellington opened the scoring when Motu Matu'u finished off some fine work from wing Matt Proctor, who would later leave the field with a knee problem.

Ross Filipo, the ITM Cup's leading try-scorer, and Ardie Savea also found their way across the chalk in the first half, while Northland stemmed the flow through a Tom Murday five-pointer and the boot of pivot Ben Seymour.

Wellington five-eighth Lima Sopoaga was ice cold off the tee in the opening 40 minutes as he missed four attempts at the posts, which meant Wellington only took a slender 15-10 advantage to the sheds.

Northland had the better of the contest in the opening stages of the second stanza but again their execution let them down as they failed to find a way through Wellington's organised defence.

Eventually, Wellington's class shone through as their Super Rugby-stocked playing ranks had too much skill and experience for the Taniwha.

An Ambrose Curtis try extended Wellington's advantage in the 56th minute and secured the bonus point but Sopoaga's off-night with the tee continued as he missed the sideline conversion attempt.

Sopoaga finally got on the board when he banged over a close-range penalty mid-way through the second half, which added to the lead and when Wellington centre Tim Bateman scored in the 65th minute the result was confirmed.

Need for speed: Everybody knows Wellington openside flanker Ardie Savea is an All Black-in-waiting but even his staunchest supporters must have been surprised at the outrageous pace he showed to score a scorching solo try from a lineout in the first half. The 19-year-old sprinted 70 metres to dot down for the Lions' third of the game.

Trio at the top: Wellington, Auckland and Canterbury are miles ahead at the top of the Premiership standings and there's daylight between the chasing pack in terms of points on the ladder and quality on the paddock. The three heavyweights will be in the playoffs and it's a fight for fourth between Counties, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.

Wellington 30 (Motu Matu'u, Ross Filipo, Ardie Savea, Ambrose Curtis, Tim Bateman tries; Lima Sopoaga pen, con) Northland 10 (Tom Murday try; Ben Seymour pen, con) HT: 15-10

- APNZ

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