Wellington pummel Waikato into submission
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.