Ranfurly Shield: Lions' record try haul
It took just three minutes for Wellington to quell any thought of a Wairarapa-Bush uprising, swamping the Ranfurly Shield challengers 90-19 at Masterton's Memorial Park this afternoon.
The gulf in class between the Air New Zealand Cup and Heartland Championship sides was yawning, despite Wellington sending a B-team over the hill.
The slick Lions were completely dominant in all areas, the minutes on the clock struggling to keep up with the points scoring, 13 Wellington tries to three.
That broke a 56-year Wellington record for most tries scored in a shield game, eclipsing the 10 scored against East Coast in 1953.
Wairarapa-Bush haven't held the shield since 1950 and it didn't take long for the floodgates to open, Hurricanes wing David Smith crossing in just the third minute.
Smith was the benefactor of second-five Charlie Ngatai's midfield bust, Ngatai linking with impressive New Zealand under-20 centre Shaun Treeby who found his flying wing in support.
Rookie fullback Jason Woodward was next to cross, supporting right wing Alipati Leiua, whose pace and footwork rival Smith's.
Then it was the forwards' turn to get in on the act, No 8 Matt Luamanu and hooker Motu Matu'u both handling in lock Mark Reddish's try.
Halfback Anthony Bradshaw then scooted clear from a ruck to give Wellington a 31-0 lead after just 20 minutes.
Wellington's other lock, Chris Middleton, continued the onslaught with another five-pointer after the Lions shunted the Bush scrum backwards.
Bradshaw then crossed for a brace, backing up a Treeby counter-attack.
Wellington captain Scott Fuglistaller at least gave the colourful home crowd of about 5000 something to cheer about when he bombed a first half try-scoring chance by passing to the touch judge.
Bush No 8 Duncan Law later ensured he wouldn't be paying for a drink this year, skipping through some flimsy defence off the back of the scrum to open the home side's account for a 45-7 halftime score.
But the Lions were back to business early in the second stanza, the giant Luamanu and replacement forward Api Naikitini strolling over after scrum turnovers.
Woodward grabbed his second off a well-worked lineout move and Smith did the same from yet another scrum turnover.
Fuglistaller then atoned for his earlier blunder by crossing the chalk.
Replacement Joe Feast scored Bush's second try, looming in support after Wellington replacement pivot Daniel Kirkpatrick's clearing kick was charged down.
Substitiute Wellington wing Marika Kau - a late call-up to the bench - and Ngatai inflicted more misery on the Bush with tries.
Wairarapa wing Nick Olsen scored Wairarapa's third try as the clock ticked away.
It was Wellington's second defence of the shield after edging Tasman 26-20 last year.
The Lions made one change to their starting side before kick-off, Treeby replacing Apoua Stewart, with Leiua moved from centre to the wing.
It was hard to pick a standout Lion, but Oriental-Rongotai rake Matu'u caught the eye with several bone-jarring tackles.
Wellington's next shield defence is away to another Heartland side, Wanganui, at Cooks Gardens next Thursday.
A minute's silence was observed before kick-off to mark the recent passing of Robert Guildford, father of Hurricane Zac Guildford.
Wellington 90 (David Smith 2, Jason Woodward 2, Mark Reddish, Anthony Bradshaw 2, Chris Middleton, Matt Luamanu, Api Naikitini, Scott Fuglistaller, Marika Kau, Charlie Ngatai tries; Fa'atonu Fili pen, 9 con; Daniel Kirkpatrick 2 con) Wairarapa-Bush 19 (Duncan Law, Joe Feast, Nick Olsen tries; Byron Karaitiana 2 con). HT: 45-7.
The Dominion Post