Wellington storm to victory
Wellington are up to second in the Farah Palmer Cup, after a hardfought win over Waikato.
The crack Counties Manukau Heat still lead the premiership division, but Wellington’s emergence is more unexpected. They came in to the campaign hoping to sneak into a semifinal and regarded Waikato as one of the sides they might be competing with for that berth.
The Pride were 5-0 down, come halftime at Hamilton Marist’s home game on Saturday, but a try to lock Sanita Levave and two Acacia Te Iwimate penalties saw them prevail 11-5.
‘‘I thought our forward pack really came to play. Our scrums and setpieces generally were good again and the bench made a real impact,’’ Wellington head coach Ross Bond said.
‘‘We’ve got a team of finishers, from [numbers] 16-22, who do a really good job for us. They were outstanding again.’’
In heavy conditions, Donna Fermanis’ try constituted the first half’s only points-scoring action. But Wellington gradually overpowered Waikato in the second spell and got their reward.
‘‘We had a number of real strong ball-carriers today. Jackie PateaFereti, Kiri Mei and Sanita Levave were really strong. The starting frontrow did their work, before the reserves came on and finished off the job for us,’’ said Bond.
That secured Wellington’s second win of the season, having beaten Hawke’s Bay and lost to Manawatu¯.
Counties, meanwhile, continue to sweep all before them, with Auckland the latest team to be overwhelmed. Hazel Tubic’s 16-point haul ensured the defendingchampion Heat made no race of it, beating the Storm 36-12.
Auckland now have just the one win from three starts, which few would have predicted.
The fact Canterbury are right amongst it comes as no shock. They’re level with Wellington, but with a slightly inferior points differential, despite Saturday’s 40-10 win over Manawatu¯.
Otago lead the second tier championship division, following their 39-17 win over Hawke’s Bay.
Hooker Asafo Aumua leaves Canterbury fullback George Bridge in his wake in a stunning first-half try for Wellington.