Wellington: 61 (Trent Renata, Will Mangos, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Asafo Aumua, Wes Goosen, Regan Verney, Sitiveni Paongo, Kemera Hauiti-Parapara tries; Garden-Bachop 4 con, Renata 2 con) Southland 12 (Tim Boys, Mike McKee tries; Greg Dyer con).
Wellington made no fewer than eight changes from the Otago fixture, but still thumped a Southland side that would struggle to make the semi-finals of the Jubilee Cup.
Fullback Trent Renata opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Wellington opted to take a scrum instead of a penalty kick and Southland was unable to shut down space on the blind side.
Just three minutes later Wellington struck again when lock Will Mangos waltzed through some feeble Stags defence.
Southland midfielder Neria Fomai dropped the ball and Jackson Garden-Bachop claimed an intercept to make it 21-0 after 23 minutes.
The last thing Southland needed at this point was for Asafo Aumua to catch fire, but he did. The hooker secured the four-try bonus point crawling over from the back of a maul and then he made a trademark surge down the wing to set up Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
Ahead 35-0 at halftime, Wellington welcomed back Wes Goosen with glee when the reserve back barged over following an angled run from a scrum.
Southland showed some heart and replacement flanker Tim Boys scored try after some nice interplay from his loose forward partner and former Wellington College pupil Tupou Sopoaga.
Wellington finished with three further tries to replacements Regan Verney, Sitiveni Paongo, Kemera Hauiti-Parapara. The last try was especially eye-catching with Hauiti-Parapara rushing 35-metres after Wellington created a hole following a poor clearance.
WHO STOOD OUT
James Tuiatua was singled out by Jeff Wilson for special praise. The MSP flanker has been busy in his appearances this year and his industry paved the way for much of the Lions success. Asafo Aumua was back to his rampant best and Garden-Bachop, Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Will Mangos were productive.
BY THE NUMBERS
Southland have lost 10 matches in a row and have only won four times in their 29 fixtures.
This was Wellington’s 14th consecutive win against Southland, last losing to them in 2002 in Invercargill.
Last year the Lions beat Southland 60-21, so they went one better in the points for column this year. Last year eight players scored the Lions’ nine tries; this year the nine tries were scored by nine different individuals.
Since 1976 the two sides have now met 30 times with Wellington winning 24, Southland 5, and solitary draw. Overall the ledger stands at 67 wins for Wellington,23 for Southland, and 7 draws in their 97 clashes.
The Lions have now scored 53 tries in their nine competition matches so far, two short of Canterbury’s 55 and with Taranaki third with 44.
CLUB RUGBY LIONS MVP
3. James Tuiatua
2. Asafo Aumua
1. Jackson Garden-Bachop
Points after eight matches:
12. Asafo Aumua
7. Jackson Garden-Bachop
6. Wes Goosen
5. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
5. Du'Plessis Kirifi
4. Alex Fidow
3. Jeff To'omaga-Allen
3. James Tuiatua
3. Sam Lousi
2. Julian Savea
2. Will Mangos
1. Tolu Fahamokioa
1. Sitiveni Paongo
Wellington: 1.Tolu Fahamokioa, 2.Asafo Aumua, 3.Joe Apikotoa, 4.Chris Middleton, 5.Will Mangos, 6.Galu Taufale (captain), 7.James Tuiatua, 8.Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 9.Sheridan Rangihuna, 10.Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11.Losi Filipo, 12.Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13.Billy Proctor, 14.Malo Tuitama, 15.Trent Renata. Reserves: 16.Sitiveni Paongo, 17.Vince Sakaria, 18.Alex Fidow, 19.Alex Dalzell, 20.Du'Plessis Kirifi, 21.Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 22.Wes Goosen, 23.Regan Verney.
Southland: 1. Joseph Walsh, 2.Brayden Mitchell (captain), 3.Guy Millar, 4.Manaaki Selby-Ricket, 5.Michael McKee, 6.Phil Halder, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Jay Renton, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Aleki Morris, 12.Matthew Johnson, 13.Neria Fomai, 14.Michael Molloy, 15.Ryan Tongia. Substitutes: 16. Flynn Thomas, 17.Shaun Stodart, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Bill Fukofuka, 20.Tupou Sopoaga, 21.Liam Howley, 22.Greg Dyer, 23.James Schrader.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Wellington will finish the round robin stage of their season against Northland in Wellington on Thursday night. The Lions are already guaranteed first place and a home semi-final
Southland’s bleak season concludes next Saturday with a derby fixture against Otago in Dunedin next.