Wellington Lions vs. Canterbury
NPC Div 1 Week 1
(Friday 13th August 2004)
Referee Paul Honis (?)
Want a game summary in two sentences? The result reflected the relative starts of the teams. The Lions made a good start and the R&Bs continued their warm-up for the first 20 minutes.
This is well illustrated by the relative performances of the back-lines – especially Ralph, after a very good 50 m run he was coughing his guts out!
Consequently the Lions were 10-nil up by the time the first scrum was set, and there wasn’t any surprise for me that since the Lions had their backs up, and Canterbury had their hackles up - it was absolute crap.
Refereeing wise, the first half was almost a continuation of the Tri-nations. There were many penalties for off-side at rucks and general play – with both sides infringing.
But at least McIntyre had his kicking game in hand – and was making some good metres.
Ignoring the first Lions try (which was however very good) the second was awesome in the ability of the forwards to make the advantage line. It made the Canterbury defence look very weak, and I thought that we might be in for a very long evening.
And so it seemed again with Fa’atau’s try. He telegraphed his attentions and still ran around Ralph for a simple try. That guy is fast!
So by half time it was obvious from the score-board which team had made the most of their pre-season. Strangely the stats were very even, except for missed tackles with Canterbury’s 8 to Wellington’s 1 !!
For me the second half didn’t start too well, with a penalty for what must be the most pathetic not release I have seen all season. This was closely followed by continued errors from the Sky Sports Commentator (I’m guessing John Drake) who was continuously mixing up the team names.
Just before it became too unbearable, Canterbury decided to show up, and the backs scored a classy try, which all came from a line-out take from Big Reuben Thorn. What a great time for him to step up.
Ben Blair was playing averagely – which is quite an improvement for him, but the Lions weren’t. No surprises that Bobo managed to step the R&Bs’ hooker and was in for the bonus point try.
It’s about this time that I wrote the most disturbing note I have ever written about a game of rugby – I don’t wish to dwell on it, but it has to be said that “the mullet is back!”
But then I realised that the scores were 29/19, and what’s more Canty were playing the house down. They were screwing the scrum and then simply screwing the scrums (if you get my meaning).
Things got a bit more one-sided when the Lions lost a lock for 10 minutes. I guess that you could say that there were no arms in the tackle as he was trying to pull out of it, but unfortunately it was quite high, and judged to be dangerous.
So it was time for the R&Bs to dominate even more – the backs were fluid, Blair even managed to scoot past Bobo and slip a pass - before he was smashed.
The forwards were having lots of fun – however the second scrum they screwed gave away a free kick.
The resulting scrum was dead straight and devastating for the Lions. Whilst they don’t give up a tight-head, Canty did get a turn-over in the mess that followed.
An extended period of play resulted in a tidy try to Scott Hamilton, and we were only 2 points behind!
And that should have been it, really!
Broomhall infringed for a penalty that should have ended the game, but missed. The R&Bs ran the ball in a last gasp attempt to win the game, but after 3 good phases - a dopey pass handed a try to the Lions.
Thankfully the sideline kick missed, and Canterbury took 1 point from the game.
It was a good and deserved win to the Wellington Lions.
If Canterbury had to start slow – at least the pulled finger in the second half. Hopefully they will be ready for North Harbour today.
Look for me in the #1 Stand – I’ll be the one wearing Red & Black !!