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Magnificent Mooloos snap losing streak

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Waikato came into the match on the back of a ten match losing streak spanning back to 2017 and were languishing second to last on the Championship ladder. Eighty minutes later they had trumped one of the Premiership’s more-fancied teams, leapt to second equal on the Championship ladder and sent a big warning to Taranaki ahead of their Ranfurly Shield challenge on Sunday.

WATCH: SCOTT WALDROM WRAPS UP ALL THE ACTION FROM ROUND THREE

It was a different Waikato team to the one that had stuttered and stumbled in the opening three rounds as they out-muscled the Lions up front, bullied them on defence and carved them up out-wide with wing Sevu Reece bagging a hat-trick.

At 43-14 up after 67 minutes, the game was safe for Waikato but Wellington refused to give in. Three tries in a frantic six minute period closed the final gap to 43-31 and secured a crucial four-try bonus point for the visitors.

In hindsight, Wellington might be guilty of underestimating Waikato. The Lions rested a number of their top players with a game against North Harbour coming up on Sunday and it looked Waikato took personal offence to Wellington’s ploy such was the physical nature of their play in the opening 60 minutes.



Waikato opened the scoring with a Sevu Reece double to put the Lions immediately on the back foot. The first was from a brilliantly worked move from the lineout while the second came from a superb long ball from first five-eighth Fletcher Smith to put Reece in space.

The home-side had their third try in the 28th minute when they had Wellington stretched on their own line before No.8 Jordan Manihera barged over.

It was quite a first half statement for the Mooloos and they continued it in the third quarter through tries to Raniera Takarangi, Samisoni Taukei’aho and a third to Sevu Reece to extend their lead to 43-14.

It was game, set and match at that point but Wellington did show their danger with a late fight back to bag what could end up being a very crucial bonus point.

Duane Monkley Medal points:

3: Sevu Reece
2: Jordan Manihera
1: Sevu Reece

Scorers:
Waikato 43 (Sevu Reece 3, Jordan Manihera, Raniera Takarangi, Samisoni Taukei’aho tries, Fletcher Smith 5 con, pen) Wellington 31 (Trent Renata, Isaia Walker-Leaware, Matt Proctor, Losi Filipo, Malo Tuitama tries, Pakai Turia con, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con)
HT: 19-0