‘Bash Brothers’ a destructive force
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. They can spark something out of nothing and it’s really good to run off when we get front foot ball,’’ said a grateful first five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop.
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 considered 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 they 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.
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.