Beaver sinks the Lions in Wellington

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Saturday, October 15, 2016    Getty Images

The Mooloos needed a bonus point win to have any chance of making the Premiership semifinals but looked down and out with the score at 24-14 with 10 minutes to play. With their season on the line and Damian McKenzie opening his full bag of tricks, Waikato crossed for two late tries to steal the 28-24 win from under Wellington’s nose.

After conceding 50 points in their last two games, Wellington needed a bonus point win to secure top spot in the Premiership and looked to have it in the bag until McKenzie and Donald combined to sink the home side.

Waikato came out firing with an early try to openside flanker Adam Burn following a great break from Willis Halaholo before the Lions took control of the half. In a forward-dominated forty minutes, Vaea Fifita, Reg Goodes and Hoani Matenga all powered over to give Wellington the tight 17-14 advantage. One of the tries came from 18 phases of constant pressure to underline Wellington’s dominance upfront.

The game began to open up in the second half with Damian McKenzie laying on two classy touches to put loose forward Jordan Manihera over. Wellington responded with a try to yet another forward when Asafo Aumua barged over to give the Lions the 10 point advantage.

In a desperate final 10 minutes, Waikato found gaps in the Wellington defence before speedster Sevu Reece went over to set up the grandstand finish. Wellington needed to cling on to secure top spot in the Championship but Stephen Donald ended the contest when he went over from a Damian McKenzie overhead pass.

The win has taken Waikato into fourth place in the Premiership but they now face a nervous wait for the result of the Tasman v Southland match to see if they qualify for the semifinals.

Wellington 24 (Vaea Fifita, Hoani Matenga, Reg Goodes, Asafo Aumua tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con) Waikato 28 (Adam Burn, Jordan Manihera, Sevu Reece, Stephen Donald tries, Damian McKenzie 4 con)
HT: 17-14

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