Auckland cruises into Premiership final

Getty Images

Saturday, October 20, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

The home side racked up five tries, dominating the breakdown, as it has done for most of this redemptive season. Wellington, conversely, despite moments with the initiative, failed to sustain pressure for long periods.


Most prominent of all was No 8 Akira Ioane, who missed All Blacks selection earlier in the week. His riposte was a standout effort, scoring two tries and setting one up. Funnily enough, his Wellington opposite Teariki Ben-Nicholas also had a fine game with several surging runs.

Auckland turned over Wellington ball at the first ruck, a sign of things to come, where men like Evan Olmstead and Ioane were most effective.

Yet it was Wellington fullback Wes Goosen who opened the scoring, capitalising on a Jackson Garden-Bachop break to cross in the corner.

Auckland’s reply was not long in coming, Ioane bursting off the back of a scrum to send wing Melani Nanai, with the help of Jonathan Ruru, over for the try.

Lock Fa’atiga Lemalu, an industrious worker in the tight, reached out with determination for the second try.

Ioane then showed his power from a standing start, carrying two defenders over the tryline for an impressive finish.
At 24-10 heading to oranges, things were looking ominous for Wellington, but the Lions, with hooker Dane Coles a halftime substitute, made the early running when Ben-Nicholas scored off a lineout.

Auckland, and Ioane were not done. The No 8 set up the movement which led to his try, again showcasing his powerful leg drive.

Captain TJ Faiane, who was again in fine fettle, made a slashing break which replacement prop Marco Fepuleai converted as the Lions wilted late in the piece, several injuries hitting hard.

Auckland now has a prime chance to add to its 16 national provincial titles against a side that has won nine of the last 10. The 2007 season, under the coaching of Pat Lam, saw Auckland’s last home final and last title.

Auckland Rugby and Eden Park have combined to provide unprecedented free entry to next Saturday’s final, so a big crowd should be on hand.

Auckland 38 (Akira Ioane 2, Melani Nanai, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Marco Fepuleai tries; Harry Plummer 5 con, pen) Wellington 17 (Wes Goosen, Teariki Ben-Nicholas tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con, pen) HT: 24-10 Auckland