Wellington has run in eight tries during a record-setting 60-14 demolition of previously unbeaten Mitre 10 Cup Premiership leaders Canterbury at Westpac Stadium.
On an afternoon that saw dogs invited to attend the match with their owners the Lions put in a ‘pawsome’ performance to post their fifth win from six matches to extend their lead at the top of the Championship ladder.
Wellington’s previous biggest score against Canterbury was set in 1990 during a 48-11 win at the same venue, their eight tries that day also a union record against the red and blacks.
Twenty-seven years later the Lions equalled the try tally with some memorable five pointers thrilling the 3000-strong crowd.
The match will be remembered for some of Wellington’s stunning long range tries, but head coach Chris Gibbes will be most pleased by the effort-based aspects of his young team’s performance.
First five Jackson Garden-Bachop produced a man of the match performance including 20 points from the kicking tee including seven conversions and two penalties, but the pack set the platform with direct, physical attack and determined defence around the fringes.
Asafo Aumua. PHOTO: Getty Sport
Wellington captain Julian Savea set the example early when he finished off an intercept from Garden-Bachop to make it 7-0 after as many minutes.
The 90-metre try was a sign of things to come.
Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua continued his highlights reel season when he stunned Canterbury fullback George Bridge by running around the outside back from 60 metres out and suddenly it was 14-0.
Mateaki Kafatolu. PIC: Getty Sport
Canterbury pulled a try back to wing Josh McKay and a long range Garden-Bachop penalty made it 17-7 at the break.
Few would have picked the ferocity of the Lions second half performance.
Lock Isaia Walker-Leawere, who had made a try saving tackle in the opening minute, charged down a kick in the opening play of the second half and regathered as Wellington shot out to 24-7.
It was the sort of play that inspires teammates to do the same and a few minutes later replacement flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi chased a hacked through loose ball 80 metres to charge down Bridge’s clearance for a 31-7 lead.
Bridge scored for Canterbury, but the Lions were far from done as the reserves came on and upped the tempo of the match in the final quarter.
Wing Malo Tuitama scored twice, fullback Ben Lam scorched over from 40 metres out and second five Regan Verney capped a solid match in the midfield by diving over near fulltime to complete the rout.
Wellington’s next match is against Waikato, in Hamilton next Saturday.
Wellington 60 (Malo Tuitama 2, Julian Savea, Asafo Aumua, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Ben Lam, Regan Verney tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 7 con, 2 pen) Canterbury 14 (Josh McKay, George Bridge tries; Richie Mo'unga 2 con). HT: 17-7.