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Taranaki Savour Rare Win Over Wellington

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Taranaki Savour Rare Win Over Wellington

Hamilton, Sept 10 NZPA - Two decades of rugby pain ended for Taranaki in New Plymouth tonight as the province savoured a 29-16 Air NZ Cup defeat of Wellington.

An opportunist try at the start of each half proved the difference as the home side lodged their first defeat of Wellington in a championship match for 20 years.

There was no shortage of mistakes from both teams in a match that lacked direction for long periods but that will not impact on celebrations in the city after Taranaki's third successive win improved their semifinal prospects.

Eighth in the standings before the match, they join Hurricanes big brothers Wellington on four wins and 18 competition points at the midway point of the season.

Up 16-13 at halftime, Wellington were kept scoreless after the break as their set piece work disintegrated and their discipline let them down.

Taranaki's confidence grew as first five-eighth Willie Ripia pushed his team clear with the boot over the final half hour, ending with 19 points via a seven-from-eight goalkicking return.

Lock Craig Clarke led a fine Taranaki lineout and his pack dominated most facets in the second spell after being trumped at the breakdown in the first half by a Wellington side fielding two specialist openside flankers in Serge Lilo and Scott Fuglistaller.

Taranaki's first try in the fifth minute was an 80m intercept scored by fullback Jack Cameron.

The second came courtesy of a wild slap from Wellington's defensive lineout which was gleefully pounced on by flanker John Willis, giving them a 43rd-minute lead they weren't to relinquish.

Wellington's sole try on the half hour went to centre Robert Fruean, their most dangerous attacker, while first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick kicked a faultless 11 points.

It was Taranaki's best performance of the year, following narrow defeats of Manawatu and North Harbour.

Wellington's poor showing comes two weeks after their meek loss of the Ranfurly Shield to Canterbury, although they appeared to recover with a 62-19 crunching of Counties-Manukau last weekend.

Wellington prop Neemia Tialata made his first start since the All Blacks' test against South Africa in Bloemfontein seven weeks ago.

He was replaced soon after halftime and their scrum suffered for his absence.


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