Wellington Lions 36 (Asafo Aumua 2, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Alex Fidow, Julian Savea tries; Garden-Bachop 3 con) beat Northland Taniwha 18 (Jordan Hyland, Jack Goodhue tries; Dan Hawkins con, 2 pen). HT: 12-10
The Lions made much of the early running, but inaccurate play negated any chances created.
Northland should have scored the first try, following a Rene Ranger turnover and a ghosting run up the near side in broken play by second five-eighth Jack Goodhue.
The Taniwha kept the heat on with their bustling approach and a Ranger kick and chase for right wing Jordan Hyland paid off when the latter beat Ben Lam in the race to the loose ball and was awarded the opening points.
The Lions replied with a stunning solo try to second five-eighth Thomas Umaga-Jensen, who ran flat and hard on to the ball from an attacking lineout and thread his way through traffic to score in the corner and make it 7-5 to Northland after 25 minutes.
Next it was the turn of flyhalf Jackson Garden-Bachop to score a striking try. On a penalty advantage inside Northland’s 22, Garden-Bachop chipped the ball up and it bounced off the crossbar and back into his clutches for him to dot down for Wellington’s second try. The try was more by accident than design as Garden-Bachop had four unmarked player to his right.
Hawkins pulled three points back with a penalty early in the second half, before a long injury delay ensued with Northland lock Tim Bond taken off with a serious injury.
Hawkins kicked his second consecutive penalty to put the Northern raiders back in front at 13-12.
From there, Wellington clicked into life. Replacement hooker Asafo Aumua added trademark intensity from the outset and scored an ice-cold clinical try off the lineout. Garden-Bachop converted and the Lions now led 19-13.
Julian Savea was responsible for the creation of two tries. A booming clearance by the former skipper dispatched Northland inside their 22 and Wellington built pressure through multiple phases. A powerful burst by Aumua got Wellington close and then tighthead prop Alex Fidow finished.
Moments later Savea made a brutal run up towards the sticks, leading to a try to him on the right hand side moments later.
Northland’s best player Jack Goodhue scored the visitors' second try, before the Lions crossed again. Vaea Fifita hit top stride, quick recycling followed and captain Brad Shields hurled a lovely pass out to the waiting Aumua who bagged his brace.
WHO STOOD OUT
Aumua changed the course of the match with his two tries and hustle. The convoy of photographers sideline made a beeline towards the exciting rookie every time he touched the ball. Kafatolu was disruptive and carried frequently, often tiding up loose ball. Goosen was typically assured and his combination with Thomas Umaga-Jensen looks set for a long and potent future. Brad Shields made a successful return and Savea shined in the last quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Wellington Lions finished their round-robin campaign with a nine win-one loss record.
Savea’s penultimate try of the match for the Lions raised their 400th point of the season; They have also scored 59 tries (four more than Canterbury’s 55), 44 conversions and eight penalties.
Asafo Aumua has scored five tries in three matches against Northland – two tonight and three last year in Whangarei.
Aumua and Alex Fidow have scored seven tries each this season. They are the leading forward try scorers in the competition.
Jackson Garden-Bachop raised 100 points for the season.
Northland’s only two wins in Wellington remain their victories there in 1990 and 2002.
Wellington and Northland (North Auckland prior to 1994) have now met 37 times between 1939-2017. Wellington has now 26, Northland nine and there have been two draws.
CLUB RUGBY LIONS MVP
3. Asafo Aumua
2. Mateaki Kafatolu
1. Wes Goosen
Points after nine matches:
15. Asafo Aumua
7. Jackson Garden-Bachop
7. 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
2. Mateaki Kafatolu
1. Tolu Fahamokioa
1. Sitiveni Paongo
Wellington: Trent Renata, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Brad Shields (captain), Mateaki Kafatolu, Vaea Fifita, James Blackwell, Sam Lousi, Alex Fidow, Sitiveni Paongo, Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Will Mangos, James Tuiatua, Carlos Price, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama.
Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Dan Pryor, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Josh Goodhue, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright. Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Phil Kite, Chris Apoua, Jack Ram, Kara Pryor, Emil Pittman, Peter Breen, Tamati Tua.