Wellington backed up last week's bonus-point success with a further five points in 43-15 victory over Manawatu on Saturday.
Wellington backed up last week's bonus-point success with a further five points in 43-15 victory over Manawatu at the Westpac Stadium.
In what was an entertaining spectacle, the Lions proved too much for their visitors as they crossed for seven tries that ultimately deflated the Turbos.
The contest was in fact fairly even going into the second period as Manawatu stayed in touch with their hosts thanks to a score from Lote Raikabula – the teams going in at the break with a scoreline of 14-8 in windy conditions.
But following the turnaround, it was all Wellington possession and two tries from Alby Mathewson to go with five-pointers for Cory Jane, Robert Fruean and Daniel Ramsay changed the game into a procession.
The Lions remain without a large chunk of their All Blacks this season but will be encouraged at their turnaround during recent weeks. And even without late withdrawal Hosea Gear, they could still count on the power of Smith as their battering ran from close-range on ten minutes.
Raikabula then landed his response wide out before home centre Alapati Leuia raced under the uprights to ensure there was a six-point gap at the turnaround.
Lions coach Jamie Joseph was clearly unimpressed and that seemed to stir Wellington into life as they made their way out of the changing rooms for the second period.
Led by the busy Mathewson, who crossed for his first in a matter of minutes, the hosts were quickly into their stride after makeshift lock Jacob Ellison and full-back Jane combined.
It was then the turn of New Zealand sensation Jane to add the decisive fourth try after Mathewson returned the favour with good work at ruck-time seeing the back extend what was looking increasingly like an unassailable lead.
And so it proved as the number nine's brace score came on 58 minutes before Joseph made a host of changes with the points already sealed.
Replacement Fruean kindly obliged for his coach before Manawatu wing Cama's seven points was followed up by Ramsay adding the gloss for Wellington, who move up to third.
Tries: Smith, Leiua, Mathewson 2, Jane, Fruean, Ramsay
Con: Kirkpatrick 2, Fili 2
Tries: Raikabula, Cama
Wellington: 15 Cory Jane, 14 David Smith, 13 Alapati Leuia, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Apoua Stewart, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Mathew Luamanu, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 4 Jacob Ellison (c), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Polonga Pedro, 19 Masefau Leuluniu, 20 Ruki Tipuna, 21 Fa'atonu Fili, 22 Robert Fruean.
Manawatu: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Lote Raikabula, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Isaac Thompson, 11 Tomasi Cama, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Brent Thompson, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 Nick Crosswell (capt), 5 James Goode, 4 Lisiate Fa'aoso, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Grant Polson.
Replacements: 16 Sean O'Connor, 17 Willie Ioane, 18 Mike Fitzgerald, 19 Callum Gibbins, 20 Hamish Gosling, 21 Tevita Taufui, 22 Aaron James.
Referee: Keith Brown