Wellington far too strong for Spirit

Scott Manson
Scott Manson
How the Wellington Pride ever landed in the lower section of the Farah Palmer Cup is one of rugby’s mysteries.

The Wellington outfit strolled to a convincing 57-5 victory over a gallant but ultimately outgunned Otago Spirit side in Porirua on Saturday in the final of the Farah Palmer Cup championship.

Otago scored the first try after eight minutes,  the side finding space on the outside for winger Kiana Wereta. She sprinted 30m to score.

But Wellington then simply took over the game and, after leading 24-5 at the break, ended up scoring nine tries in a convincing display.

The side was somehow relegated last season from the top tier premiership, but looked like one of the best sides in the country on Saturday.

It lost one game all season — the first game against Hawke’s Bay when it was forced to field a weakened side due to other commitments.

It also handed out the only loss of the season to Canterbury — the side which won the premiership section on Saturday when it beat Counties-Manukau 52-29 in Christchurch.

Wellington was simply too big and strong in the forwards on Saturday. It had some big tough athletes up front who were able to make metres when they had the ball.

Otago was solid in defence and never shirked a tackle, but with the officials not letting much go the way of the defensive team, it was more than a tough task for Otago; it was near enough to mission impossible.

Otago coach Scott Manson said Wellington was a very good side but he was proud of the effort his side put out.

"The first five minutes was awesome and that was the way we wanted to play. But we were not accurate enough when we needed to be," he said.

"When they got the ball and got on the front foot they were  hard to stop. They are a big, strong team."

Otago made 157 tackles compared to just 47 completed by Wellington, showing how little ball Otago had to play with.

Manson said a few tackles were missed, but the defence scrambled well to stop Wellington scoring some long-range tries.

The side had nothing going for it,  key midfielder and new Black Fern Kilisitina Moata’ane forced off midway through the first half with an ankle injury.

She had missed most of the season because of an injury to the same ankle, and when she heard a crack when going down, she feared the worst.

But it was feeling better after the game and there was hope it would not rule her out of the Black Ferns tour.

Flanker Georgia Mason was harshly yellow-carded for trying to get a turnover halfway through the second half, and Wellington made the most of her absence.

Mason got around the paddock while fellow loose forward Morgan Henderson tried hard and never gave up.

Manson said he had really enjoyed coaching the side. The team culture was great and the players were inquisitive and keen, which was all he could ask for.

Otago had lost the same match last year, so will be hoping it is third time lucky next year.


Farah Palmer Cup
The scores

Wellington Pride    57

Monica Tugoai 2, Timena Tuma’ai 2, Angleica Uila, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Janet Taunoli, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Isadore Laupola tries; Amanda Rasch 6 con

Otago Spirit    5

Kiana Wereta try

Halftime: 24-5

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