Lions thrash hap­less Stags

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - LO­GAN SAVORY

The gulf be­tween the top team in the Mitre 10 Cup Cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion and the strug­gling bot­tom of the ta­ble South­land team has been ex­posed.

Welling­ton made eight changes to its team for the trip down to In­ver­cargill to take on the Stags yes­ter­day but still man­aged to run in nine tries to two in a 61-12 vic­tory.

South­land bat­tled away in patches through­out the game but sim­ply lacked the fire­power to break down the Cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion lead­ers.

Full­back Trent Re­nata opened the scor­ing in the 15th minute when Welling­ton opted to take a scrum in­stead of lin­ing up a handy penalty shot at goal.

From the scrum, they went blind where they had plenty of space to work with and the South­land de­fence strug­gled to con­tain them.

Just three min­utes later Welling­ton were in again, this time it was lock Will Man­gos who waltzed through some dis­ap­point­ing tackle at­tempts from the Stags to score.

The con­ver­sion from first fiveeighth Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop pushed the score out to 14-0, but Gar­den-Ba­chop was on the score­sheet again soon af­ter.

He latched on to an in­ter­cept from a pass from South­land mid­fielder Ne­ria Fo­mai and sprinted away to score Welling­ton’s third try and by the 23rd-minute mark, the visi­tors were up 21-0.

At that point, Welling­ton were com­pletely dom­i­nat­ing and had South­land on the ropes on many oc­ca­sions.

With four min­utes re­main­ing in the first half they notched up their four-try bonus point when hooker Asafo Au­mua scored from a Welling­ton drive.

The young hooker was back in the ac­tion min­utes later when he caused the South­land de­fence night­mares run­ning with the ball on the grand­stand touch­line which setup sec­ond five-eighth Thomas Umaga-Jensen to score Welling­ton’s fifth first-half try.

It pushed it out to half­time lead. a big 35-0

It took just six min­utes into the sec­ond half be­fore Welling­ton were in again this time it was re­place­ment back Wes Goosen who scored from a well worked back­line move off a scrum.

To South­land’s credit they showed some fight when it all very bleak as they started to dom­i­nate pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory through the mid­way point of the sec­ond half.

While the Welling­ton pe­riod the come.

It was re­place­ment flanker Tim Boys who fin­ished in the cor­ner but it came on the back of some nice in­ter­play from his loose for­ward part­ner Tupou Sopoaga in the lead up.

But that try brief pos­i­tive the game.

Welling­ton fin­ished with three fur­ther tries to re­place­ments Re­gan Ver­ney, Si­tiveni Paongo, Ke­mera Hauiti-Para­para to push out to the big win.

The Stags play­ers did pro­vide some­thing to ex­cite the South­land sup­port­ers who hung in right un­til the end of the game when lock Mike McKee was able to score late in the game, but it was a case of too lit­tle too late.

South­land now have just one game re­main­ing which is a derby fix­ture against neigh­bours Otago in Dunedin next Satur­day.

Welling­ton will fin­ish the round robin stage of their sea­son against North­land in Welling­ton on Thurs­day night.

Welling­ton’s home semi­fi­nal is al­ready locked up as they search for pro­mo­tion to the top flight Pre­mier­ship com­pe­ti­tion. strug­gled to break the de­fence for a long re­ward even­tu­ally did ended pe­riod South­land’s through­out jointly held – of 10 tries in a cal­en­dar year with his five-pointer off the back of a set-piece move in Bloem­fontein last week­end.

The Wal­la­bies have six tests re­main­ing this year and Fo­lau will no doubt have his eyes on the world record of 17 shared by Ja­panese flyer Daisuke Ohata (2002) and All Blacks winger Joe Roko­coko (2003).

The 28-year-old be­came the first Aus­tralia to score four dou­bles in a cal­en­dar year and has chalked up more tries this year than in 2014, 2015 and 2016 com­bined.

De­spite this – and this will worry other in­ter­na­tional teams – Fo­lau be­lieves he isn’t even close to hit­ting his straps.

‘‘To be hon­est, I think a lot of peo­ple are talk­ing about how good things are go­ing, but I prob­a­bly don’t feel as good as how things look on the out­side, which is al­ways a good thing for me,’’ Fo­lau said. ‘‘I’m try­ing to push to get a lot bet­ter ... and I know that there are cer­tain parts of my game that I was com­ing off the field and never re­ally sat­is­fied. It’s a pos­i­tive for me to want to get bet­ter for the fi­nal week.

Wal­la­bies agrees.

‘‘He’s been play­ing ex­cel­lently, [but] I do think he’s got room for im­prove­ment,’’ Cheika said. ‘‘Over the next year or two you’ll see as he gets more ma­ture and gets a bit older, he’ll un­der­stand how to make the most of his tal­ents and pre­pare him­self ex­actly right.’’

I stand firm on what I be­lieve in and what I said. Is­rael Fo­lau

coach Michael Cheika


Big Lions sec­ond-rower Will Man­gos goes for a charge against South­land in In­ver­cargill last night.

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