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Wellington Keep Shield In Safe Keeping

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Wellington Keep Shield In Safe Keeping

Wellington, July 9 NZPA - Despite a 61-6 loss in today's Ranfurly Shield clash with Wellington, Wanganui say they are pleased with how they p layed.

Wellington won their second shield defence of the season 61-6 at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui but not before the home side asked questions of their resolve.

A week after swatting aside Wairarapa-Bush 90-19 in Masterton, Wellington expected a sterner challenge, and they got it.

Wanganui held the visitors to 6-26 until midway through the second half before two tries within one minute to wing David Smith and second five-eighth Charlie Ngatai gave the visitors sudden momentum.

The lower division Meads Cup champions had the better of the contest for 20 minutes, but they lacked the cutting thrust and pace in the backs to make full use of the possession won by their forwards.

Smith clinically finished a move notable for some outstanding handling by fellow winger Alipate Leiua, who retained hold of the ball by rolling it on his hip before spreading it wide.

All of 60 seconds later Ngatai scored himself after centre Shaun Treeby pulled off an intercept, and 8 minutes later Treeby joined the tryscorers' list when Leiua beat two defenders on the right flank.

Leiua was then gifted the space he needed to stroll in for his second try with five minutes to play, before Treeby broke three tacklers to set up replacement Frae Wilson to raise the half century.

Wanganui fully deserved a try of their own, but they were twice denied when they looked likely in the last quarter, with fullback Asaeli Tikoirotuma involved in both instances.

Tikoirotuma set off for the tryline at one stage only to be called back for a forward pass, then was dragged down less than one metre short of his target by desperate defenders.

Wanganui halfback Denning Tyrell, playing his second Ranfurly Shield challenge, said he was happy with his team's efforts.

"Today wasn't far from what we tried for -- it was good. I think all the boys gave everything, even if we did let ourselves down in the last 20 minutes. That's when Wellington's fitness came through."

Although Tyrell admitted Wanganui had contributed to Wellington's points by trying too hard to score a try in that second half, he said the players would learn from the mistakes.

"It's a challenge for them in the future when they get another chance, hopefully," he said.

"We have to remember that these guys (Wellington) are fulltime rugby players compared with someone who goes out milking at 4am in the morning -- and then go to training in the evening."

Wellington's next shield defence doubles as their opening Air NZ Cup home match, against Otago in Wellington on July 31.

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