Rugby: Taranaki thrash Wellington

By Campbell Burnes

Taranaki 54 Wellington 31
Alex Fidow of Wellington. Photo / Getty
Alex Fidow of Wellington. Photo / Getty

The Marty McKenzie show was on full display in the capital as Taranaki firmed as Premiership semifinalists with a dominant performance.

The Taranaki first five, just the second best No 10 in the province, after a certain Beauden Barrett, carved up the Lions' defence with his running and carved off big metres with his kicking. For his 17 points and authoritative generalship, he was rewarded with an early rest by coach Colin Cooper.

The seven tries to four hiding of the home-town Lions means Taranaki are now second on the Premiership table and, should they beat Auckland in four days' time, they should secure a home semifinal.

The hapless Lions, who did at least finish strongly, led by replacement prop Alex Fidow, who scored one try and set one up to grab a bonus point, had made nine changes for this match. The lack of cohesion showed. At least wing Joe Hill ran with some dash, but their pack was demolished as Taranaki took the direct route.

The visitors posted their highest score against the Lions, and a hat-trick to classy Blues-bound fullback Stephen Perofeta helped blow the score out. The midfield of Johnny Fa'auli and Seta Tamanivalu was aggressive without the ball and potent with it.

Wellington will be looking at all aspects of their game, but they are still right in the hunt for a home Championship final, having drawn level with Otago on points with the final try. But after being on the receiving end of two 50-point floggings in four days, they will need an urgent injection of energy and accuracy.

It was Old Timers' Day in the capital and old heads such as Earle Kirton and Mike O'Leary would have some free and pointed advice.

Wellington are back at home on Saturday to Waikato in another crossover clash to round out their regular season, while Taranaki finish at home to Auckland on Thursday night.

Taranaki 54 (Stephen Perofeta 3, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Toa Halafihi, Seta Tamanivalu, Jackson Ormond tries; Marty McKenzie 4 con, 3 pen, Perofeta con)
Wellington 31 (Alex Fidow, Joe Hill, James Blackwell, Mark Reddish tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 con, pen)
HT: 20-3

- NZ Herald

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