WELLINGTON XV LOSE 28-14 TO MANAWATU IN OTAKI
Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes left Otaki Domain a wiser man after watching his Wellington XV selection lose 28-14 to Manawatu on Sunday.
Two weeks out from the start of the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Gibbes was provided with a good gauge as to the strength of his extended Lions squad.
“It was a valuable exercise and what it showed me was there is some great depth in Wellington club rugby and plenty of players who are capable of making the step up to representative rugby.
“We weren’t perfect, but there were lots of positives which we will build on over the next couple of weeks. We’ll name a new squad to play Tasman next Thursday in Seddon and hopefully take another positive step toward the start of the season proper.”
The Wellington XV featured returning first five Dan Kirkpatrick and new Wellington signing Trent Renata with the pair sharing half a game each at first five.
Manawatu opened the scoring in Otaki with a try to centre Lewis Marshall after 18 minutes as the visitor’s dominated early possession and territory.
With snappy halfback Carlos Price firing out some quality ball the Wellington XV worked their way back into the match.
Kirkpatrick opened up the defence with a clever off load on the 32 minute mark and after wing Ollie Sapsford had gone close to scoring in the corner Manawatu’s hurried clearing kick provided wing Michael Buckley with the Wellington XV’s first try.
Buckley was one of the picks of the Wellington XV with his sharp running and ability to beat defenders with little room, so when he was offered open spaces on the counter attack he had no trouble weaving his way under the posts to tie the scores at 7-all.
Wellington struck first after halftime when replacement centre Levi Harmon latched onto a Manawatu skip pass and sprinted 40 metres to the try line for a 14-7 lead.
With most of the Wellington XV’s ten substitutes coming onto the field they lost some shape and Manawatu scored three tries in reasonably quick succession to take the win.
Two of those tries went to former Oriental-Rongotai hooker Hunter Prescott.
The Wellington XV had a late chance to score a third try after replacement Jeff Makapelu had busted the defence only for lock Chris Middleton to spill the low pass with the line open. Middleton was one of the Wellington XV’s best players on the day during a rugged 80 minute effort in the second row.
The Wellington Lions Mitre 10 Cup season kicks off against the Manawatu Turbos on August 20.
Wellington XV 14 (Michael Buckley, Levi Harmon tries, Dan Kirkpatrick con, Andrew Wells con) Manawatu 28 (Hunter Prescott 2, Lewis Marshall, Harrison Brewer tries, Jade Te Rure 2 con, Ben Wyness 2 con). HT: 7-7.