Wellington Lions coach Earl Va’a left Levin Domain on Tuesday night with a broad smile after watching his wider training squad in action against Heartland Championship neighbours Wairarapa Bush and Horowhenua-Kapiti.
It wasn’t just the 22-0 score line during 40 minutes against Wairarapa Bush, nor the 48-0 win in the same time period against Horowhenua-Kapiti, that had Va’a smiling.
“This was the end point after seven weeks of hard training for our wider training group and it really was a chance to give us a gauge of where our club and academy players were at in terms of our attack and defence systems.
“You never know how things are going until you put things into action and I’m pleased to say that a lot of the boys really took their opportunity and put their hands up. It’s about finding out who the next guys are out there in club land and after watching that I would say Wellington rugby is good stead right now.”
The first 40 minutes saw Wellington Axemen’s wing Paddy Hughes score a brace of tries for a young Wellington XV with Northern United first five Jackson Garden-Bachop scoring the other try and adding two conversions.
During the second match, a more experienced Wellington line up ran in seven tries against Wairarapa with Marist St Pats openside Isaac O’Connor and wings Lester Maulolo and Joe Hill particularly impressive in a dominant display.
Others to stand out on the day included Old Boys University halfback Tomasi Palu, and young Petone back Losi Filipo.
Va’a will now switch his attention to the final round of the Swindale Shield as he continues to closely monitor the form of the province’s top club talent.
The Wellington Lions first preseason match ahead of the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup is on August 3 with other warm up matches against Manawatu (August 7) and Canterbury (August 12) also scheduled.
Wellington XV 22 Wairapapa-Bush 0
Paddy Hughes 2 tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop try. Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con
Wellington XV 48 Horowhenua Kapiti 0.
Isaac O’Connor, Lester Maulolo, Peter Umaga – Jensen, Galu Taufale, Joe Hill, Sheridan Rangihuna & Junior Makapelu tries.
Piri Parone 3 cons.
* note in Horowhenua-Kapiti they award 6pts for tries & 2pts for conversions