‘‘Bash Broth­ers’’ a de­struc­tive force

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - MARK GEENTY

They’re known in Welling­ton’s rugby dress­ing room as the ‘‘Bash Broth­ers‘‘, and who’s go­ing to ar­gue?

Ram­pag­ing Li­ons Asafo Au­mua and Alex Fi­dow left another trail of bruised op­po­nents across West­pac Sta­dium on Thurs­day - this time in Cam­bridge blue jer­seys - as Welling­ton swept past North­land 36-18 for their ninth win from 10.

Clearly, the 20-year-olds are New Zealand rugby’s most de­struc­tive duo and, no co­in­ci­dence, the two gi­ant ball run­ners are Welling­ton’s equal lead­ing tryscor­ers with seven each, head­ing into next week­end’s Mitre 10 Cup cham­pi­onship semi­fi­nals. Rarely, if ever, does a prop and hooker top the try charts af­ter a 10-match reg­u­lar sea­son.

‘‘The ‘Bash Broth­ers’, they call them­selves. They cer­tainly are, and I’m happy they’re on our team and not the op­po­si­tion,’’ first fiveeighth Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop said.

‘‘They can spark some­thing out of noth­ing and it’s re­ally good to run off when we get front foot ball.’’

Au­mua only gal­loped onto the field just af­ter half­time on Thurs­day, and in about 35 min­utes gave All Blacks coach Steve Hansen a jar­ring re­minder - if he even needed one - that he must be con- sidered among the coun­try’s top three hook­ers.

He scored two tries, jolted North­land No 8 Matt Matich with a fear­some front-on tackle around the chest, and saw lock Tim Bond taken off on a stretcher as a pre­cau­tion af­ter an un­for­tu­nate but le­gal col­li­sion against a Welling­ton wall.

‘‘I was ex­cited be­cause I don’t re­ally like be­ing on the bench. I was re­ally hun­gry just to get back on the field and un­leash,’’ Au­mua said.

‘‘I think I had too much pre­work­out [sup­ple­ment] … I had three scoops and came on and I was fizzing.’’

Asked about his mate Fi­dow, also born in Lower Hutt three months af­ter Au­mua in 1997, he broke into a grin.

‘‘My man. We’ve been do­ing that for a while it feels like, rep rugby, un­der-13s, un­der-16s. I’ve played along­side him a bit.

‘‘Ac­tu­ally… he was too heavy for us [in un­der-13s], he was about 150 back then. School rep rugby was where it started [Au­mua at­tended St Pat’s Sil­ver­stream and Fi­dow was at Scots]. Hope­fully we can bring it next week as well.’’

Fi­dow, all 1.87m and 133kg of him, showed amaz­ing agility to pick up af­ter an Au­mua charge and dive over be­side the posts in the 60th minute for Welling­ton’s bonus point try, af­ter strug­gled in the first half.

In a re­mark­able se­quence, Welling­ton col­lected four-try bonus points in all 10 matches this year, as they did for the last seven of last sea­son.

Never has that been achieved, and another Welling­ton sea­son record looks set to fall ahead of a home semi­fi­nal and a likely fi­nal for pre­mier­ship pro­mo­tion. Their 59 tries in 10 matches are three short of the sea­son high 62 from 13 matches in 2008.

Said Au­mua: ‘‘We’re pretty con­fi­dent but we don’t want to hold our heads too high. We just have fun and ex­press our­selves, the coaches say that ev­ery week. You see a lot of smiles out there when we start rolling.’’

Welling­ton now get to put their feet up and study their likely op­po­nents who will fin­ish fourth. North­land are cling­ing on to sec­ond spot on 25 points but Bay of Plenty (23), Manawatu (22) and Otago (21) could all sweep past them into the semis with vic­to­ries.

Bay of Plenty host rel­e­ga­tion­threat­ened Waikato to­day, Otago host South­land in the next match and Manawatu travel to Hawke’s Bay to end the reg­u­lar sea­son to­mor­row af­ter­noon. All three are winnable matches and North­land will be ner­vous, but the Tur­bos have to back up quickly from two bruis­ing de­feats to Coun­tiesManukau and Taranaki. they


Welling­ton’s 10th bonus point try from as many matches in 2017 is scored by Alex Fi­dow as cap­tain Brad Shields, left, shows his ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

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