Above: Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua and the forwards helped set up the record win for the Lions over Canterbury. Photo by Dave Lintott Photography - more photos here
Wellington: 60 (Malo Tuitama 2, Julian Savea, Asafo Aumua, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Ben Lam, Regan Verney tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 7 con, 2 pen) Canterbury: 14 (Josh McKay, George Bridge tries; Richie Mo'unga 2 con). HT: 17-7.
Two tries from charge-downs, one from an intercept, a dominant forwards display and a clinic from the first five-eighth. That can usually be said of the clinical Canterbury outfit, but that was the serving from the home side as Wellington scored a record win against Canterbury.
Wellington led 17-7 at halftime playing into the wind. The heavens opened just before halftime and and so did the Canterbury defence. Wellington won the second half 45-7.
Canterbury looked ominous initially when they bombed two tries in the opening two minutes.
Wellington clicked into life when first five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop grabbed an intercept inside his 22 and set up a try totally against the run of for captain and right wing Julian Savea.
Hooker Asafo Aumua then scored a typically stunning try receiving the ball at pace on the wing and sprinting 65-metres. His side step on George Bridge, the Crusaders leading try scorer in 2017, would have made even Fred Astaire envious.
The red and blacks struck in the 22nd minute when Josh McKay crossed from a sharp cut-out pass, but the Wellington forwards earned a penalty for Garden-Bachop who kicked a 40-metre goal to compete the first half scoring.
In pelting rain, the Lions started the second half in perfect fashion, scoring two consecutive tries from charge-downs. Isaia Walker-Leawere smothered and poached an attempted clearance from the 22 and livewire flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi blocked and gathered a kick from near the halfway mark.
Bridge had some short-lived joy in the 55th minute when he darted over from a lineout move, but the last quarter was all Wellington.
Malo Tuitama crossed for a pair. The young winger supported a Thomas Umaga-Jensen bust in 63rd minute and then pushed through two defenders in a 30-metre solo ten minutes later.
Garden-Bachop was imperious and set up both Ben Lam and Regan Verney with touches of superior vision and speed
The Lions won back the Harry Saundercock Trophy for the first time since 2013.
Everyone. This was a dream performance from a Wellington side that is rapidly growing in stature. Garden-Bachop played his best game for the Lions, Aumua continues to amaze and was mostly accurate in tough throwing conditions. The confidence shown by rookies Tuitama, Umaga-Jensen, Fidow and Verney was infectious.
The win by Wellington is their largest ever against Canterbury. The previous biggest was 48-11 in 1990.
Canterbury had never conceded 60 points until today. Their previous highest concessions were 59 against North Harbour in 1994 and Waikato in 2002.
Jackson Garden-Bachop kicked nine of 10 kicks for 20 points, missing his final conversion of the match from right in front!
Garden-Bachop and Canterbury kicker Richie Mo'unga are the joint leading points scorers after five rounds and six matches with 72 points each.
This was the 47th championship meeting between Wellington and Canterbury since 1976, one of the most played meetings in the NPC competition. Head to head, Canterbury have now won 23 matches to Wellington’s 22 with two draws.
In NPC matches against Canterbury, the Lions scoring 1,128 points and 137 tries to Canterbury’s 1,98 points and 136 tries.
Canterbury lost for the first time in seven games.
The official crowd figure of dogs was 86 canines.
Both sides play away on the 23rd. Canterbury travel to top of the table North Harbour and Wellington visits Hamilton to tackle Waikato.
3. Jackson Garden-Bachop
2. Asafo Aumua
1. Isaia Walker-Leawere
Points after five matches:
10. Asafo Aumua
6. Jackson Garden-Bachop
6. Wes Goosen,
5. Du'Plessis Kirifi
3. Jeff To'omaga-Allen
3. Alex Fidow
2. Julian Savea
1. Tolu Fahamokioa
Wellington: Ben Lam, Julian Savea (c), Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Mateaki Kafatolu, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Lousi, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Asafo Aumua, Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Leni Apisai, Sitiveni Paongo, Alex Fidow, Will Mangos, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Sheridan Rangihuna, Dan Kirkpatrick, Levi Harmon.
Canterbury: Alex Hodgman, Ben Funnell, Siate Tokolahi, Hamish Dalzell, Dominic Bird (C), Tom Sanders, Jed Brown, Reed Prinsep, Ere Enari, Brett Cameron, Josh McKay, Rob Thompson, Inga Finau, Poasa, Waqanibau, George Bridge
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Chris Gawler, Jack Straker, Mitchell Dunshea, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Suckling