Clin­i­cal Li­ons eas­ily see off BOP

Upper Hutt Leader - - CLASSIFIED - HAMISH BIDWELL

Well might Welling­ton en­joy­ing them­selves.

Some stern tests still await them in the na­tional pro­vin­cial rugby cham­pi­onship. They’ve got Hawke’s Bay to­mor­row for starters, let alone what­ever play­off foot­ball might await them.

For the time be­ing, though, you can hardly fault the Li­ons, who im­proved their record to 3-0 thanks to Thurs­day’s pro­fes­sional 31-10 win over Bay of Plenty in Ro­torua.

Play­ers such as Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Lousi and Asafo Au­mua pro­duced per­for­mances that en­hanced their rep­u­ta­tions, while there were de­buts for James Tuia, Losi Filipo, Will Man­gos and Car­los Price.

‘‘Yeah, it’s awe­some. Win­ning’s al­ways fun and we’re play­ing some good rugby too, which is even bet­ter,’’ first fiveeighth Gar­den-Ba­chop said.

‘‘It has been a good start but, like I say, it’s only a start.’’

Rain, a heavy track and BOP’s re­luc­tance to con­trib­ute much, meant the match at Ro­torua In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium loomed as a grind. Pleas­ingly, Welling­ton showed they had the stom­ach for it. be

There were first-half tries to Malo Tuitama and Walk­erLeawere, be­fore Lam, Goosen and Au­mua added five-point­ers in the sec­ond. With 15 min­utes to go the Li­ons had led just 17-10, but closed the game out in clin­i­cal fash­ion.

‘‘For the most part our for­wards dom­i­nated and we tried our best to play in the right end of the field. When we did that we were able to come away with points,’’ said Gar­den-Ba­chop.

He was as re­spon­si­ble for that as any­one. His op­tion-tak­ing and ex­e­cu­tion have been very good in these first three games, which is just what this team needs.

‘‘Three bonus-point wins from three games; I can’t com­plain at all,’’ Gar­den-Ba­chop said.

On pa­per, the 41-29, 42-26 and 31-10 vic­to­ries over Manawatu, Taranaki and Bay of Plenty sug­gest things might have been done with a bit of ease. The re­al­ity is each of those games was in the bal­ance and Welling­ton found a way to win.

‘‘We’ve got a tight group and we’ve all got the same goal that we don’t want to be in the cham­pi­onship any­more,’’ said Gar­denBa­chop.

Thurs­day’s only con­cern was cap­tain Brad Shields hav­ing to leave the field with a re­cur­rence of the ster­num in­jury he picked up in June’s 31-31 draw with the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

(Malo Tuitama, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Ben Lam, Wes Goosen, Asafo Au­mua tries; Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop 3 con)

(Ter­rence Hepetema try; Mike De­lany pen, con) . HT: 12-0.

Welling­ton 31 Bay of Plenty 10

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Welling­ton cel­e­brate at the fi­nal whis­tle after beat­ing the Steam­ers 31-10 at Ro­torua.

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