ITM Cup: Counties Manukau 16-55 Wellington
Lions give Steelers stark Premiership lesson
August 16, 2013
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen rampages through the steelers' defence
© Getty Images
Wellington Lions opened the ITM Cup with a commanding 55-16 win over Counties Manukau in Pukekohe on Thursday night. Boasting three capped All Blacks - Dane Coles, Victor Vito and Jeremy Thrush - and just as many of Steve Hansen's training squad members, the Lions were a clearly a class above in giving Counties Manukau, darlings of the 2012 Championship, a stark illustration of the step up to the Premiership.
The Steelers showed intent to play their usual high-paced game was there, but their execution was poor as the pack showed a lack of mongrel that prompted coach Tana Umaga to replace two of his tight forwards at the break.
Wellington's experienced forward pack was put under pressure early, but the likes of Brad Shields, Vito and even Coles soon found an abundance of space to roam out wide. And Coles, the All Blacks hooker left out of the Bledisloe Cup Test squad to face Australia in Sydney on Saturday, to work on his fitness, will be sure to tell the national selectors about his 30-metre burst to score his side's third try.
Wellington wing Sinoti Sinoti, prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and fullback Matt Proctor scored tries before half-time, before a solitary try from Steelers flanker Maama Vaipulu gave the ECOLight Stadium faithful a glimmer of hope - the deficit cut to 29-16 thanks to Baden Kerr's conversion.
But there was little joy for the hosts thereafter, Tim Bateman, Shaun Treeby, Taniela Koroi and Joe Hill keeping the scoreboard ticking over as the Lions passed half-century mark with more than 10 minutes still to play.
Wellington Lions fullback Matt Proctor fends off Steelers counterpart Sherwin Stowers in Pukekohe © Getty Images