Lions roar into Championship final

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Friday, October 20, 2017    Getty Images

Wellington showed why they are the Championship’s number one seed by overcoming a slow start to pile on six tries and see off a brave effort from the Taniwha. 


But it didn’t come easy at Westpac Stadium. Memories of last year’s shock semifinal exit to North Harbour began to creep back in as Wellington slumped to a 14-6 deficit early in the first half.

The Taniwha came out firing and put the Lions on the back foot through quick phase play from their forward pack before outside backs Jordan Hyland and Solomon Alaimalo cashed in to give Northland the lead.

The complexion of the game changed quickly when Northland loose forward Dan Pryor was yellow carded late in the first half. Wellington made the most of the one man advantage by crossing to tries to midfielders Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Wes Goosen to make the score 23-14 early in the second half.

Julian Savea has had a brilliant season for the Lions and was influential again tonight. When the big winger set up fullback Trent Renata the lead was stretched to 30-14 and there was no coming back for Northland.

Prop Tolu Fahamokioa has watched his front-row partners Alex Fidow and Asafo Aumua cross for 14 tries between them this season and decided tonight was the night he would get in on the action too. After another powerful surge by Aumua, Fahamokioa was on the spot to barge over and put the result beyond doubt.

Northland grabbed another well desereved try to Sam Nock following a Rene Ranger break but it was the Lions who had the final say when Goosen completed a double.

The Lions now wait on the result of the Otago v Bay of Plenty semifinal on Saturday to see who they will host at Westpac Stadium in the final next weekend.

Wellington captain Brad Shields said: “They really made us work right to the end. It shows for next week we need to be on for eighty minutes because those dying moments are the ones that could count.”

Wellington 49 (Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen 2, Trent Renata, Tolu Fahamokioa, Regan Verney tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 pen, 5 con) Northland 21 (Jordan Hyland, Solomon Alaimalo tries, Dan Hawkins 2 con, Sam Nock try, con)
HT: 16-14