Wellington vs Taranaki
Lions look forward after heavy loss to Taranaki
CAPTION: The Wellington Lions wore a one off charity jersey against Taranaki to raise funds for Wellington Children's Hospital. PHOTO: Dave Lintott Photography
Skipper Mark Reddish’s last gasp bonus point try edged Wellington closer to securing a Mitre 10 Cup Championship home semifinal, but the Lions were far from pleased after losing 54-31 to Taranaki at Westpac Stadium.
Playing in a charity jersey that is now being auctioned for charity, the Lions were too charitable in defence against a Taranaki team that ran in seven tries to Wellington’s four.
In the middle of a tough stretch that saw them play three matches in ten days, Wellington coach Earl Va’a fielded some experimental combinations against a Taranaki side desperate for competition points to qualify for the Premiership playoffs.
The result was not what the Lions had wanted on Old Timers’ Day, but with senior players like captain Brad Shields, prop Reggie Goodes and centre Matt Proctor in the wings Va’a is confident the team can bounce back against Waikato at Westpac Stadium next Saturday.
While the first half was a tough watch for Lions fans, there was bright impact in the second half from powerful prop Alex Fidow and young lock/loose forward James Blackwell, both of whom crossed for tries.
Wellington’s other two tries went to wing Joe Hill, the Lions best movement of the match following some interplay between backs and forwards, and Reddish, who was rewarded for his toil in the tight with a try on the full time whistle.
The bonus point for scoring a fourth try kept the Lions equal on points with Otago at the top of the Championship points table, but second on points to differential.
That means next week’s final round robin match against Waikato could be decisive in deciding who finishes as the Championship’s top qualifier. Otago’s final match is against Manawatu in Palmerston North.
Wellington’s record this season now stands at six wins and three losses.
Taranaki 54 (Stephen Perofeta 3, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Toa Halafihi, Seta Tamanivalu, Jackson Ormond tries: Marty McKenzie 3 pen, 4 con, Perofeta con) Wellington 31 (Alex Fidow, Joe Hill, James Blackwell, Mark Reddish tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop pen, 4 con). HT: 20-3.