Star wings will boost Lions in NPC

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2012

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Given Wellington XV coach Chris Boyd described the score from his team's 21-12 loss to the Cantabrians yesterday as "utterly irrelevant", the most interesting developments are of a personnel nature.

All Blacks wing Julian Savea was one of 11 players Boyd injected at halftime of yesterday's pre-season match at Linfield Park, in Christchurch. And, by the sound of things, that will not be the last action Savea sees in Wellington colours.

The Lions begin their NPC campaign with a clash against Manawatu in Palmerston North, where at least one All Blacks wing should feature in Boyd's side.

"I think it's unlikely that Julian and Hosea Gear would make the same All Blacks 22, both being specialist left wingers and not playing any other position. So I think if everyone's fit [in the All Blacks camp] we're likely to get somebody back," Boyd said.

It would still be a "week-to-week" proposition, but having either of Savea or Gear on a regular basis would be a boost to Boyd's boys. Loose forward Victor Vito is another who might be released to play NPC rugby, at some point, depending on the All Blacks injury toll.

Even without the All Blacks trio, Wellington possess a formidable team on paper. But it's one that needs to do the basics a bit better than it did yesterday.

"We were looking to get consistency of the supply of the ball, which we didn't achieve," Boyd said.

In the first half, four free kicks for incorrectly engaging at scrum time made that difficult while, in the second, Wellington's lineout didn't perform too well.

"But I'm pretty pleased, really," Boyd said.

With neither team bothering to take penalty shots at goal, it was a try and a conversion apiece at halftime. Flanker Scott Fuglistaller got Wellington's, with fellow loose forward Genesis Mamea bagging the second-half one.

The Cantabrians led just 14-12 until late in the match, when wing Patrick Osborne was awarded a contentious try. Wellington assumed the clock was still stopped, after an injury, but Cantabrians first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal was allowed to restart and put a cross-kick over to the unmarked Osborne.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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