Tighthead prop Alex Fidow celebrates one of his two tries with halfback Sheridan Rangihuna. Photo by Dave Lintott Photography
Wellington Lions 40 (Julian Savea, Sitivini Paongo, Alex Fidow 2, Wes Goosen, Malo Tuitama
Tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 con; Dan Kirkpatrick con) beat Hawke’s Bay Magpies 27 (Cardiff Vaega, Jason Long, Sam McNicol, Jorian Tangarere tries; Tiaan Falcon pen, 2 con). MORE HERE
It wasn’t one of the memorable matches between the two Hurricanes provinces, but the Lions made it four from four and all but boked their Championship semi-final place with an efficient win in their 100th clash in first-class rugby against the Magpies.
Tiaan Falcon opened the scoring with a a seventh minute 38-metre strike, but the Lions replied with three straight tries on the back of a strong forwards effort to lead 19-3.
Right wing Julian Savea sparked the sparse crowd into life by barging over up his more familiar left-hand lane to score the game’s first try. Jackson Garden-Bachop added the extras from out wide.
Sitivini Paongo played the full club season this year for Tawa at loosehead prop but was a late replacement in the Lions’ starting XV at hooker for early season sensation Asafo Aumua. Paongo slid over for the Lions’ second try.
Wes Goosen made a slicing outside break up into the Magpies’ 22, only to be buried in a big tackle by the Barracuda, Richard Buckman. Quick recycling saw Garden-Bachop attack the line and rampaging tighthead prop Alex Fidow stormed through under the posts.
Hawke’s Bay launched a furious assault on Wellington’s line late in the first half. After being denied by TMO Jared Clarke, former Marist St Pat’s and Wellington midfielder Cardiff Vaega bounced over in the corner to score on the stroke of halftime. The Lions went into the sheds holding a 19-8 lead.
The Lions were quick to extend their lead after the oranges, the Les Mills sponsored Fidow trucking over for his double after a Buckman clearing kick under pressure turned into a bad defensive bomb and slick centre Goosen scored again.
The Magpies had the wealth of possession and territory and Hawke’s Bay scored three consolation tries as the game got messy. McNicol’s finish running down a kick was enjoyable.
In between, the Lions sealed the contest with a try to replacement wing Malo Tuitama, after a dummy by replacement pivot Dan Kirkpatrick and transfer by fullback Andrew Wells
Despite a few shaky lineouts it was a polished effort by the Wellington forwards with Du'Plessis Kirifi further justifying his arrival in the capital. Gossen produced another classy effort. Sheridan Rangihuna cleared with speed and precision. Julian Savea hunted work and Thomas Umaga-Jensen had a solid debut.
Jackson Garden-Bachop turned in a solid 70 minutes at first five-eighth.
Both Fidow and Paongo put in industrious shifts, before being subbed together after 55 minutes.
No. 8 Teariki Ben Nicholas battled hard against his Old Boys University teammate Hugh Renton in the loose forward department.
The Lions got good value off all their bench players.
Wellington lost the penalty count 13-4.
Wellington have now earned 62 wins over the Magpies in first-class games, with Hawke’s Bay winning 32 and six draws.
Hawke’s Bay has won just one of the 12 matches played at Wellington’s home venues.
The Lions have score 154 points and scored 22 tries and conceded 92 points and 16 tries in their four games this year.
Three of Scots College’s National champion First XV side teamed up together in provincial colours for the first time, with Fidow, Tuitama and Umaga-Jensen all in action. The latter’s brother Peter and TJ Va’a have both also played for the Lions (both injured) while Garden-Bachop also went to the Strathmore learning institution.
Ben Lam and West Goosen have stayed on the field for the first 320 minutes of Wellington’s season.
Wellington will look to post their fifth win in a row against the Tasman Makos on Sunday while Hawke’s Bay host Otago in the last match of round five in a match that used to be billed as Hawke’s Bay B v Otago when many of the Magpies players were at university in Dunedin.
3. Wes Goosen
2. Du'Plessis Kirifi
1. Alex Fidow
Points after four matches:
8. Asafo Aumua
6. Wes Goosen, Jeff To'omaga-Allen
4. Du'Plessis Kirifi
2. Julian Savea
1. Tolu Fahamokioa
2. Alex Fidow
Wellington: Andrew Wells, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sheridan Rangihuna, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Galu Taufale, James Blackwell (captain), Isaia Walker-Leawere, Alex Fidow, Sitivini Paongo, Tolu Fahamokioa.
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Will Mangos, James Tuiatua, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Dan Kirkpatrick, Malo Tuitama.
Hawke’s Bay: Richard Buckman, Jonah Lowe, Hayden Hann, Cardiff Vaega, Sam McNicol, Tiann Falcon, Brad Weber, Tony Lamborn, Hugh Renton, Lucas Goodin, Geoff Cridge, Nicholas Palmer, Jarvy Aoake, Jacob Devery, Mark Braidwood. Reserves: Jorian Tangaere, Jason Long, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Joshua Eden-Whatiri, Ricky Hayes, Chris Eaton, Dan Snee