Wellington pips Northland in comeback win
Saturday, August 28, 2010 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
Northland fullback Lachie Munro had the opportunity to tie the match on the stroke of full-time but after missing just one kick all game he pushed the penalty attempt wide.
Northland had outscored the Lions three tries to two in the opening 40 minutes as blindside flanker Dean Budd grabbed a brace after an opener from Aaron Bancroft.
Wellington had replied through Shaun Treeby and Victor Vito but spent much of the opening spell pinned in their half of the field as Northland came out firing.
That changed after the break as Julian Savea, Vito and finally Schwalger breached the Taniwha defence and Munro could only manage a solitary penalty in reply.
Rene Ranger wasted no time in getting involved in the action and he had a hand in the first two of Northland's tries.
The All Blacks winger ran a lovely angle onto a pop up pass from Jared Payne then sent the ball out to Bancroft who touched down in the tackle of Savea.
Offside against Jeremy Thrush and Dane Coles then saw Munro extend the lead to 8-0 with his first penalty of the half.
Wellington enjoyed their best spell in the following 10 minutes as they finally managed to get themselves into the Northland 22.
A mistake by David Holwell at a re-start gave the Lions a chance to attack from the set-piece.
Alby Mathewson, in his 50th appearance for Wellington, was stopped short but from the resulting five metre scrum Shaun Treeby gathered a wobbly pass from Rodney So'oialo to spin out of a tackle and score.
Another Munro penalty gave Northland a six-point lead and then another blistering counter-attack involving Ranger saw Budd claim the first of his two tries.
Mark Reddish turned the ball over with Wellington on attack and it was spun wide to Ranger on the left wing, who was helped by some crafty running from Payne which prevented Treeby making a tackle, and it allowed the winger to pass the ball inside to Budd who ran in unopposed. Munro's conversion gave them a healthy 18-5 advantage.
Wellington needed to be the next to score and they did through their returning All Black Vito after a strong run from Savea.
But the momentum swung back the visitors' way again with Budd's second try, although there was a suggestion he did not release Vito before attacking the ball after the Lions loose forward had chased back to tidy up. Munro's conversion saw Northland lead 25-10 at the break.
The Lions dominated the opening 15 minutes of the second spell and got themselves right back in the match with two converted tries.
Savea showed all his strength and speed to finish off a move from a scrum in front of the posts, then Vito rounded off an almost length of the field counter-attack by the Lions.
Fili gathered the ball deep in his own 22, danced past four Northland defenders, put Jeremy Thrush into space before the lock offloaded to Hosea Gear. He then found Vito on his shoulder and the hard-running flanker fended off Bryce Heem and charged to the line.
Northland's response was a penalty for Munro which kept the visitors 28-24 ahead.
But in the final 10 minutes Wellington threw everything they had at Northland and were eventually rewarded when Schwalger forced his way over.
Wellington: 31 (Shaun Treeby, Victor Vito 2, Julian Savea, John Schwalger; Fa'taonu Fili 3 con ) Northland: 28 (Aaron Bancroft, Dean Budd 2 tries: Lachie Munro 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 10-25
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