Wellington 41 Taranaki 13
Wellington made up for an indifferent performance against the Taniwhas from Northland last Sunday, as they completed a comprehensive win against 13 men from Taranaki last night at the Stadium.
I say 'The Stadium' because by popular choice, this is now Westpac Trust's 'official unofficial name'. No one is over the moon about it, but at least it's better than the wanky 'cake tin' moniker. If only they had named the place after Stadium Godmother Fran Wilde e.g. 'I'm off to Fran's for the night', 'See you at Frannie's'. That name is a marketer's dream.
The match itself was a bit nasty really. For most of the first half, the front rows butted heads in scrum after scrum, and there were occaisional sitings of the ball, as it headed into the hands of loose forwards who took it to ground, fumbled it and presented it to the halfback for another scrum.
The backs became understandably tetchy. In the 17th minute, pygmy Taranaki halfback Brendan Haami yanked his opposite number, Jason Spice, out of play and used the man's chest as a welcome mat. As he was sent off to a carousing chorus of expletives from the home crowd, his offence was repeatedly shown as a video nasty on the big screen. The cow-botherers were down to 14 men and they never really recovered.
The game opened up substantially after this. Christian Cullen began to show his class in a series of explosive bursts up the touchline, finally scoring a copybook try in the 27th minute. At halftime the score was 11-3 in favour of Wellington.
This was extended further when, after less than two minutes into the second half, Semo Sititi scored an easy try under the posts. But Taranaki were not out of it yet. After a quick throw-in from touch, the mumbling mountain men silenced the crowd temporarily as they grabbed a cheeky try from nowhere. At 18-10, Taranaki were still in this. But true to form, a late shoulder charge was made against Wellington First-five David Holwell, and another Mooloo was in the bin.
Two tries followed in quick succession, the first to Jonah Lomu and the second to no. 6 Jerry Collins. But Taranaki stuck to their gameplan.
In an amazing show of outright in-bred stupidity, Mooloo forward Dan Smith assaulted Holwell in a repeat of the previous incident. Referee Steve Walsh Jnr sent him off this time.
Despite the thuggery, (or because of) Wellington came through with a win and scored some first class tries. Handling errors, wrong options and a tendency to try too many fancy moves at crucial times may cost them against Auckland next Friday, however. Hope I'm wrong.