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Second half surge gets Lions home

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Saturday, September 23, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

The game was anyone’s at halftime with the score locked at 10-10 but the Lions showed why they are the team to beat in the Championship with a four-try effort in the second half to shut Waikato out of the game.

It wasn’t quite the demolition job they did on Canterbury last week, but the bonus point win has all but secured Wellington a home semifinal with three rounds still to play.

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The first half was a scrappy affair with neither team taking a stranglehold on the game. The defence of both teams was tight and it took until the 35 minute mark for the first try to be scored. After a steady forward build up, former Waratahs lock Sam Louisi used his bulk to barge over for the Lions.

The try seemed to spark Waikato into life and they struck back just two minutes later when Bailyn Sullivan was given too much room to roam in the midfield.

The 10-10 halftime score was a fair reflection of a hard fought 40 minutes.

Wellington came flying out of the blocks in the second half, playing with much more fluency as first five-eighth Dan Kirkpatrick finished off a well worked team try to snatch the lead back.

There was to be no looking back for the Lions as they crossed for three more tries to flanker Mateaki Kafatolu, centre Thomas Umaga-Jensen and prop Alex Fidow to cap off a dominant victory.



The impressive part of the Lions victory was the way they shifted gears in the second half. The first forty minutes was an even affair, but the Lions were the only team in the second half. The Julian Savea-captained side shut down Waikato’s attack and were clinical with ball in hand. The Lions big forward ball carriers were direct with their running and opened up opportunities for their speedy outside backs.

After an impressive start to their season, the loss is a further bump in the road for Waikato. They cannot afford anymore slip ups if they are to secure a Premiership playoff spot.

Wellington Lions captain Julian Savea said: “We were stuck in first gear in the first half. We got a rev up at the break and fortunately for us we stuck it to them in the second half and got out of first gear.”

SCORERS:
Waikato 10 (Bailyn Sullivan try, Sevu Reece pen, con) Wellington 34 (Sam Lousi, Mateaki Kafatolu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Alex Fidow tries, Dan Kirkpatrick try pen, con, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con)
HT: 10-10