Wellington first half swamps Southland

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Friday, August 31, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Wellington were not allowed the same freedom in the second half and only extended the margin after the final hooter when scoring their eighth try, three of them going to wing Ben Lam.

For Southland there was some satisfaction in showing much more character in the second half, although many of their first half was down to not having enough possession.

Southland found themselves attempting to hold back a Wellington tide that washed over them while posting six first half tries. There was no lack of tackles put in by the southerners but Wellington's support play was relentless and eventually patience brought its own reward.

Southland attempted to wear down the Wellington defence early, but key mistakes, handling especially proved costly and allowed the home team to put their superior pace on the ball to good effect.

That inability to translate position into points was seen four minutes into the game when Wellington made good ground through their big forwards which allowed first five-eighths Jackson Garden-Bachop to slip a grubber kick towards the in-goal where second five-eighths Thomas Umaga-Jensen ran through to score.

After a Jackson Ormond intercept was knocked into touch, Wellington opted for a scrum and halfback TJ Perenara ran from the base with wing Malo Tuitama racing through in support only to be tackled short of the line. But from the ruck it was hooker Asafo Aumua, standing off, who got the ball to drive over in the 13th minute.

Working a variation from a 23rd minute scrum in a similar position No.8 Ben Nicholas fed Perenara standing off and with fullback Wes Goosen running hard into the line right wing Ben Lam was given a comfortable chance to finish.

A fourth try resulted as Wellington worked their way downfield through 17 phases to see loosehead prop Tolu Fahamokioa charge over to score. Hard-working lock James Blackwell had reward for a productive first half with a try after a Goosen break in the 32nd minute and just on halftime Lam scored a second when coming across field in support of Tuitama.

Whether Wellington loosened up, or Southland found something extra in defence, the second half proved a different story. There was time for a 57th minute try, Lam's third.

But better ball retention from Southland, and continuity, especially as they introduced most of their substitutes, resulted in a well-taken lineout drive producing a try for replacement forward Bill Fukofuka in the 68th minute.

Wellington had the final say when from a tap penalty replacement forward Kaliopasi Uluilakepa barged over to complete the final margin.

Duane Monkley Medal Points: Malo Tuitama 3, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2, James Blackwell 1.

Scorers: Wellington 52 (Thomas Umaga-Jenson, Asafo Aumua, Ben Lam 3, Tolu Fahamokioa, James Blackwell, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 5 con; TJ Va'a) Southland 7 (Bill Fukofuka try; James Wilson con). HT: 40-0