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Lions have too much firepower for Taranaki

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Saturday, August 26, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

With two of the most exciting backlines in the competition, an afternoon kick off and dry track, it was always going to be a high scoring encounter. Wellington simply had more attacking threats across the park with many of their forwards looking just as dangerous as the backs with ball in hand.

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Wellington came storming out of the blocks in the opening 20 minutes to leap to a 24-0 lead. With strike weapons all over the park, Taranaki couldn’t handle the home side’s relentless attack with Asafo Aumua, Ben Lam and Julian Savea all crossing the chalk in a scintillating first quarter.

Hooker Aumua is fast building a reputation as one of the most damaging ball runners in the country and split the Taranaki defence wide open to score from what should have been a simple carry to the line. Ben Lam showed great pace to finish off a Wes Goosen break while Julian Savea laid on a great individual effort to chip and re-gather for the Lions third try.

A rout was looking likely, but Taranaki is too good a side to not fight back. The visitors slowly worked their way back into the game as the overwhelming territory and possession statistics began to even out. Props Mitchell Graham and Angus Ta’avao rumbled the ball up and put the heat on Wellington’s young pack at scrum time. All of a sudden it clicked into gear for Taranaki as midfielders Charlie Ngatai and Sean Wainui scored tries to close the gap to 24-14.
Wellington’s game plan took on a more conservative tone with a brace of penalties to Jackson Garden-Bachop as the Taranaki comeback was weathered.

Taranaki showed they weren’t the only team that could spark tries from nowhere when halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi went on an electric run from the base of the scrum to put loose forward Lachlan Boshier over.

At 30-19 it was game on, but the Lions showed class and composure to go 13 phases before hard running mid fielder Regan Varney crashed over. Varney’s try wasn’t just worth the bonus point for the Lions but effectively ended Taranaki’s hopes of winning the game.

Asafo Aumua had one more moment of individual brilliance before being substituted. The dynamic hooker showed a wide range of skills to latch onto a chip kick out wide before fending off wing Declan O’Donnell and running thirty metres to the try line.

All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo ensured all was not lost for Taranaki with a late try to secure a four-try bonus point.

The win has given Wellington the maximum 10 points from two games and positions them as favourites for the Championship title. Taranaki still sit inside the top four on the Premiership ladder but face a huge challenge next week against Counties Manukau at home.

SCORERS
Wellington 42 (Asafo Aumua 2, Ben Lam, Julian Savea, Regan Verney tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 con, 3 pen) Taranaki 26 (Charlie Ngatai, Lachlan Boshier, Sean Wainui, Waisake Naholo tries, Stephen Perofeta 3 con)
HT: 27-14