Welling­ton pum­mel Waikato into sub­mis­sion

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - JOSEPH PEAR­SON Septem­ber 24, 2017

Welling­ton piled the mis­ery on Waikato with a com­mand­ing 34-10 vic­tory in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day.

The Lions es­tab­lished their place as cham­pi­onship lead­ers in the Mitre 10 Cup but Waikato’s pre­mier­ship fi­nals hopes ap­pear over af­ter get­ting pum­melled af­ter half-time.

Ini­tially it wasn’t the same Welling­ton who put 60 past Can­ter­bury but they fin­ished strongly with four sec­ond half tries at FMG Sta­dium Waikato.

It was the same Waikato who looked short of con­fi­dence and co­he­sion as they had in re­cent de­feats to Manawatu and North­land.

Welling­ton cru­cially scored two tries with 14 men around the hour mark when Mateaki Kafa­tolu first put the Lions 22-10 in front, which de­flated Waikato.

Thomas Umaga-Jensen then cruised through to grab Welling­ton’s bonus point try and the Mooloos had no an­swer be­fore star hooker Asafo Au­mua in­evitably bul­lied his way to the try line for their fifth five-pointer.

De­fence was dom­i­nant; tack­les were fe­ro­cious but Waikato’s line was breached af­ter 35 min­utes when Lions lock Sam Lousi ducked and dived over to score.

The game had badly needed a try and Welling­ton’s first sparked Waikato into life as Bai­lyn Sul­li­van hit back for the Mooloos im­me­di­ately to level the scores at 10-10 for half­time.

Welling­ton wasted good ter­ri­tory when the play­ers re­turned from the sheds but the Lions came roar­ing back when Dan Kirk­patrick, play­ing ahead of the rested Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop, went over af­ter Ben Lam sliced through Waikato’s line.

The Mooloos be­gan to fall off tack­les but Welling­ton just couldn’t pull clear.

Their poor dis­ci­pline, which saw two Lions sin­binned - in­clud­ing Au­mua - gave Waikato a sniff and Re­gan Ver­ney’s yel­low card af­ter 56 min­utes left Welling­ton pinned in their 22.

But Waikato made an aw­ful er­ror, spilling the ball from one deep Welling­ton kick, and the Lions got a roll on, scor­ing quick tries through Kafa­tolu, Umaga-Jensen and Au­mua.

Welling­ton fin­ished like a team full of con­fi­dence, con­demn­ing Waikato to a fourth con­sec­u­tive de­feat ahead of the Mooloos chal­leng­ing Can­ter­bury for the Ran­furly Shield next Satur­day.

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