Wellington triumphs in wet

Getty Images

Sunday, August 1, 2010    Getty Images

Tries to Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush and Julian Savea were enough to repel a young Tasman side, which was not helped by the sin-binning of captain Chris Jack in the first half.

Makos fullback Robbie Malneek got an early try for the visitors in front of a meagre crowd of 3368 but in the end Wellington's greater experience told.

The wet and windy conditions meant the wingers rarely saw the ball in the first half as the forwards ground it out up front, keeping it tight and opting to snipe around the fringes and recycle rather than play with any width.

The Lions, playing into the wind in the first half, hardly put boot to ball even when in their own 22 and in the early stages that allowed Tasman to put them under pressure which eventually saw Malneek go over for the game's first try on 10 minutes after Lions first-five Fa'atonu Fili had kicked an early penalty.

Some good interplay between lock Jarrod Aberhart, James Marshall put Jack Umaga in a bit of space and he beat Savea fed the ball inside ball to Malneek and the fullback raced in.

After an earlier miss halfback Steve Alfeld slotted a penalty to extend the Makos' lead to 8-3 and for much of the half they remained in front despite being heavily penalised at the breakdown for the players not staying on their feet or incorrect entry to the ruck.

Referee Josh Noonan's patience finally ran out and on 20 minutes Jack was shown a yellow card for killing the ball.

With the one-man advantage Wellington gradually began to take control of the game and when they won a series of penalties in the Makos 22 stand-in captain Neemia Tialata opted for the five-metre scrum and after several energy-sapping resets and some good pick and goes hooker Coles was eventually driven over on the half-hour to tie the scores 8-8.

The forward arm-wrestle continued in the 10 minutes leading up to the break but when play opened with half-time looming Faifili Levave made a strong run down the right.

The ball was fed to Fili who picked out Thrush and his neat one-two with Tialata gave the big lock some space and he stepped the Tasman defence to slide over.

Fili added the extras for a 15-8 half-time lead.

Wellington showed off its more expansive game when the game re-started. Second five-eighths Shaun Treeby showed good strength to break the line and it took some outstanding defence from Blair Cook to haul down a hard-running Alipati Leiua who was heading for the left corner.

The try came seven minutes into the second half on the right hand side. After going through the hands of Fili, Hosea Gear, Treeby and Daniel Ramsay, Savea showed some lovely footwork to stand up Malneek and run 20 metres to score.

Scott Fuglistaller was then stopped just short of the line as Tasman again scrambled well on defence.

Having survived the Lions' onslaught it looked as though Tasman would be next to score after first-five James Marshall made a break down the right wing, kicked ahead and Savea ended up taking it into touch.

From the lineout the ball was recycled well before Wellington substitute forward Api Naikatini put in a big tackle on Malneek to bring the move to a juddering halt.

The Makos fullback left the field shortly afterwards with what looked like an arm injury.

Instead Tasman had to settle for a penalty on the 70th minute for Alfeld, which turned out to be the final scoring act of the match.

Wellington 20 (Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush, Julian Savea tries; Fa'atonu Fili con, pen) Tasman 11 (Robbie Malneek try; Steve Alfeld 2 pen). HT: 15-8