Wellington into NPC Final
October 17, 1999
Wellington proceeded to next weekend's NPC final when they defeated Waikato in Hamilton, 38-17, on Saturday. They dominated all aspects of play, their forwards in particular continuing their recent good form, with Tiatia, Afeaki and Vanisi overshadowing their opponents.
Their defeat in Whangarei to Northland last week had raised question marks about the Waikato pack and their ability to resist a Wellington eight intent on their first NPC final appearance.
Wellington dominated all facets of play from the start, controlling possession and territory in the face of a lacklustre response from Waikato.
The retiring Matthew Cooper gave the home side the lead with an 8th minute penalty but this was quickly equalised by David Holwell in the 10th minute. Holwell had one of his more infuriating afternoons, missing 3 other kickable penalties in the first half which might have proved costly.
Despite only leading 10-3 at half-time,Wellington went in to the break well in control of the game. Jason Spice having scored a 28th minute try, converted by Holwell , after some slow motion defence by Waikato.
Wellington then forged ahead and won the match in the third quarter. Jason O'Halloran scored a 52nd minute try, converted by Holwell, and skipper Norm Hewitt latched onto the end of a forward drive from a lineout to score in the 56th minute.
Holwell providing the finshing touches converting from the touchline.
Desperate to gain some compensation, Waikato then traded tries and the crowd were treated to some entertaining rugby.
Randle in the 63rd reduced the gap for Waikato before Koko replied for Wellington two minutes later.
Waikato were again on the board through Wheeler but it didn't take Wellington long to reply, O'Halloran scoring his second.
Waikato were well beaten, their early season exertions defending the Ranfurly Shield possibly responsible for their poor end of season, when they lost three out of their last four games.
Wellington will be testing opponents in the final, the momentum is with them and they are a potent attacking force.