18 Oct 2008

Lions step up a Gear to secure place in rugby final

6:07 am on 18 October 2008

Wellington gained home advantage for the Air New Zealand Cup rugby final after two late tries secured victory over Southland by 28-19 in Wellington on Friday night.

The Lions scored early through Hosea Gear, and lead 11-3 at half time but the contest remained undecided until the final 10 minutes.

A try to Southland winger Pihi Te Whare and a penalty to Blair Stewart put the visitors ahead for the first time with 20 minutes to play. But Wellington responded with a second try to Gear and one to Conrad Smith.

Wellington's coach Jamie Joseph was unhappy with the mistakes his side made but said it took a bit of composure from his team late in the game to see them through.

Wellington will host the final against either Canterbury or Hawke's Bay, who meet in Christchurch on Saturday night.

It is the fifth final Wellington have made in the past six years, but they haven't won any of them.

Union fined

The South Canterbury Rugby Union has been ordered to pay a fine of $4,500 after players misbehaved during a flight.

The New Zealand Rugby Union says players on the chartered flight returning to Timaru after a game in Gisborne were using cell phones against the wishes of the cabin crew.

The NZRU says when the flight stopped in Wellington some players were not allowed back on the connecting flight to Timaru.

Even though the South Canterbury Rugby union has since apologised to the airline involved, the NZRU has warned it to expect a more severe penalty if a similar incident is repeated.