Rugby: Wellington destroy Southland

By Niall Anderson

Vaea Fifita was immense for the Wellington Lions. Photo / Getty
Vaea Fifita was immense for the Wellington Lions. Photo / Getty

Wellington have secured a semifinal spot in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship after demolishing Southland 60-21 at Westpac Stadium.

The emphatic bonus point trouncing brings Wellington within a point of Championship leader Otago, and creates an insurmountable 16 point buffer over fifth-placed Bay of Plenty with three games remaining.

After several close wins, the comfortable nature of the scoreline would have pleased Wellington coach Earl Va'a, who saw his raft of big name players all contribute in their best attacking performance of the season.

The most telling disparity between the two sides came in the forward packs. The Wellington forwards epitomised the modern game - running at pace, fending and constantly looking to link up with support runners.

Vaea Fifita was the most dangerous, running for 98 powerful metres; in comparison the Southland forward pack could only muster a pitiful 82 metres combined as they lacked incision and width in their play.

Wellington were marshalled by the calming presence of 21-year-old Jackson Garden-Bachop, who provided excellent link-up play and two try assists as Wellington racked up their biggest scoring output since 2009.

The hosts crossed nine times in total and ended with a remarkable 830 running metres as Southland expectedly showed the fatiguing effects of playing their third game in ten days, missing 36 tackles.

Southland have the fewest Super Rugby players in the competition, a lack of top-level talent which has led to some hefty defeats in 2016. A victory against Bay of Plenty has been sandwiched between seven defeats - six by 14 points or more - and leaves next week's clash against Northland as a likely wooden spoon decider.

Wellington 60 (Malo Tuitama 2, Vaea Fifita, Greg Foe, Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen, Jason Woodward, Asafo Aumua, Galu Taufale tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 6 con, pen)
Southland 21 (Wharenui Hawera, Jahvis Wallace, Keanu Kahukura tries; Hawera 2, Greg Dyer cons)
Halftime: 38-14

- NZ Herald

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