Wellington back on track
Saturday, August 14, 2010 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
Wellington now has 10 points from three matches while Otago just has a solitary bonus point and is now facing a difficult season.Savea and Alby Mathewson were the pick of the Wellington backs while Faifili Levave and Neemia Tialata impressed in the forwards.
Josh Tatupu and Ben Smith had good games in the backs for Otago while Hoani Matenga and Kees Meeuws were standouts in the forwards.
Wellington went into the game with a one-win, one-loss record while Otago had lost both matches, to Counties-Manukau and Southland and was the clear underdog.
But Otago made the perfect start, scoring the first try within the first minute. Joe Tatupu grabbed the rebound from a high kick, Chris Small chipped ahead and Tatupu won the race to the loose ball over the line.
But Wellington took the lead after 17 minutes when No 8 Faifili Levava broke the defence and the ball went through four pairs of hands before Jeremy Thrush scored in the corner. Fili converted and Wellington led 7-5.
And it doubled its lead seven minutes later when Otago turned the ball over and, from 60 metres out, right wing Julian Savea chipped and chased and gathered the loose ball to score wide out.
Fili kicked a penalty for Wellington to make it 17-5 but Otago replied after 32 minutes with a try to fullback Chris Small after he was skillfully put into a gap by centre Ben Smith.
Wellington, which had 62% territory, deserved its halftime lead and Otago would have been concerned at missing 10 tackles, compared to four by Wellington.
Dickson kicked an easy penalty two minutes into the second spell but that was cancelled out by a booming 48 metre penalty by Fili, which restored Wellington's five-point lead.
Wellington increased its lead to 25-15 after 13 minutes when Fili chipped accurately to the right wing where Savea gathered and scored his second try.
The Lions went out to 32-15 and scored their bonus point try midway through the spell when Levave burst from a set scrum and linked with Alby Mathewson who scored under the posts.
Otago was falling badly off tackles and the dangerous Wellington attacking options were starting to dominate the game.
Fili kicked his third penalty from a scrum infringement 17 minutes from the end and Wellington was comfortable at 35-15.
Tatupu and then Adam Thomson lost the ball as they lunged at the Wellington line but finally the pressure told with left wing Fetu'u Vainikolo scoring in the corner. Dickson converted and Wellington's lead had been trimmed to 35-22.
Otago 22 (Joe Tatupu, Chris Small, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Glenn Dickson 2 con, pen) Wellington 35 (Jeremy Thrush, Julian Savea 2, Alby Mathewson tries; Fa'atonu Fili 3 con, 3 pen). HT: Wellington 17-12.
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