11 Oct 2010

Lions roar back up table

11:13 am on 11 October 2010

It took half the game but Wellington ran away with their provincial rugby match at North Harbour in a second-half blitz, 52-23.

The scores were locked up at 20-20 at half-time but a lone penalty was all the reward for Harbour as Wellington ran in five unanswered tries.

An opening intercept try to Harbour's first five Ben Botica was against the run of play and prop John Schwalger struck back for the Lions from a ruck close to the hosts' line at around 20 minutes into the match.

Harbour led 17-10 within 10 minutes after No.8 Mathew Luamanu touched down but Wellington levelled again before the break when halfback Alby Matthewson intercepted a chip kick and raced almost half the field to score.

Piri Weepu's conversion handed the Lions a 20-17 lead but another Mike Harris penalty made it 20-20 right on the whistle for half-time.

Another penalty apiece wasn't enough to break the deadlock but hooker Dane Coles did when he finished off a classic team try from Wellington within 10 minutes of the restart.

Jeremy Thrush crossed for the decisive bonus point try from a botched Harbour lineout, then winger Alipate Leuia adding the icing on the Lions' cake with a 50-metre burst after a turnover was seized on by team-mate Shaun Treeby.

Young winger Julian Savea scored the sixth try for Wellington with less than 10 minutes to go and Leuia got his second near the end as the score totally blew out.

The result means the Lions climb back into the Premiership top seven zone in sixth place, three points above Bay of Plenty, who trail Tasman 27-19 at half-time in Blenheim.