Lions thrash hapless Stags
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.
‘‘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.