Clinical Lions easily see off BOP
Well might Wellington enjoying themselves.
Some stern tests still await them in the national provincial rugby championship. They’ve got Hawke’s Bay tomorrow for starters, let alone whatever playoff football might await them.
For the time being, though, you can hardly fault the Lions, who improved their record to 3-0 thanks to Thursday’s professional 31-10 win over Bay of Plenty in Rotorua.
Players such as Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Lousi and Asafo Aumua produced performances that enhanced their reputations, while there were debuts for James Tuia, Losi Filipo, Will Mangos and Carlos Price.
‘‘Yeah, it’s awesome. Winning’s always fun and we’re playing some good rugby too, which is even better,’’ first fiveeighth Garden-Bachop said.
‘‘It has been a good start but, like I say, it’s only a start.’’
Rain, a heavy track and BOP’s reluctance to contribute much, meant the match at Rotorua International Stadium loomed as a grind. Pleasingly, Wellington showed they had the stomach for it. be
There were first-half tries to Malo Tuitama and WalkerLeawere, before Lam, Goosen and Aumua added five-pointers in the second. With 15 minutes to go the Lions had led just 17-10, but closed the game out in clinical fashion.
‘‘For the most part our forwards dominated and we tried our best to play in the right end of the field. When we did that we were able to come away with points,’’ said Garden-Bachop.
He was as responsible for that as anyone. His option-taking and execution have been very good in these first three games, which is just what this team needs.
‘‘Three bonus-point wins from three games; I can’t complain at all,’’ Garden-Bachop said.
On paper, the 41-29, 42-26 and 31-10 victories over Manawatu, Taranaki and Bay of Plenty suggest things might have been done with a bit of ease. The reality is each of those games was in the balance and Wellington found a way to win.
‘‘We’ve got a tight group and we’ve all got the same goal that we don’t want to be in the championship anymore,’’ said GardenBachop.
Thursday’s only concern was captain Brad Shields having to leave the field with a recurrence of the sternum injury he picked up in June’s 31-31 draw with the British and Irish Lions.
(Malo Tuitama, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Ben Lam, Wes Goosen, Asafo Aumua tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con)
(Terrence Hepetema try; Mike Delany pen, con) . HT: 12-0.
Wellington 31 Bay of Plenty 10
Wellington celebrate at the final whistle after beating the Steamers 31-10 at Rotorua.