Wellington vs North Harbour
Lions first five Jackson Garden-Bachop has written himself in the record books as he kicked the Wellington Lions to a 21-17 Mitre 10 Cup Championship win over North Harbour at Westpac Stadium.
The 21-year-old kicked a perfect seven-from-seven from the kicking tee to set a record for the most penalty kicks in a single match by a Wellington player.
Garden-Bachop eased past six other Lions players who had previously kicked six penalties in a match including legendary names such as Allan Hewson and John Gallagher.
“Growing up you here those names and they are legends to you, so it's pretty special now coming off the field and hearing my name being said next to them, but I'm just happy to do my job for the team.
“I had no idea about it [the record]. I didn’t think about that, we were just in the right part of the field, so I was happy to just keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“The boys were putting us in the right areas and we were putting them under pressure and they gave us penalties in handy positions. It was my job to put them over so that’s what I did. That’s why I practice all week, so I can kick the ones that matter.”
The record Garden-Bachop beat had effectively stood since Hewson kicked six penalties back in 1985 with Gallagher (1987), Simon Mannix (1991), Jon Preston (1994), Piri Weepu (2004 and Dan Kirkpatrick (2009), the other players to have reached the mark.
“When I was at school [Scots College] we usually tapped or went for lineout, do I don’t think I’ve every kicked that many penalties, but tonight was the night,” Garden-Bachop said.
CAPTION: Young Lions fans hold a banner in support of record setting first five Jackson Garden-Bachop during Wellington's 21-17 win over North Harbour at Westpac Stadium. PHOTO: Dave Lintott Photography
The Northern Untied pivot was more interested in the fact that Wellington had posted their second win of the season in front of 3087 fans.
“An ugly win is better than a pretty loss. We got a punch in the nose from Otago last week , so we were pretty keen to put on a good performance today and I think we did that for the most part.”
Wellington had to fight to the finish to overcome a Harbour team who started well and led 10-0 after a penalty to centre Matt Vaega and a converted try to first five Matt McGahan when Lions halfback Tomasi Palu appeared to slip over as he tried to make the tackle.
Garden-Bachop kept the scoreboard ticking with three first half penalties to make it 10-9 at the break, but when Harbour lock Brandon Nansen strolled through some weak defence the visitors had a 17-12 lead shortly after the resumption.
Wellington didn’t blink and good pressure up front slowly turned the penalty count around and got them into good positions on the field.
Coach Earl Va’a would have been pleased to see his team make plenty of opportunities on the edges where wing Wes Goosen and blindside Vaea Fifita found space, but less thrilled with his team’s inability to finish.
Garden Bachop struck his fifth and sixth penalties in the five minutes after Nansen’s try to put his side back in front, then struck his record seventh penalty in the 65th minute.
Wellington Lions 21 (Jackson Garden-Bachop 7 pen) North Harbour 17 (Matt McGahan, Brandon Nansen, tries; Matt Vaega pen, 2 con). HT: 9-10.