Wellington put in a clinical performance to beat Waikato 26-14 at Westpac Stadium, with Julian Savea starring for the Lions.
Wellington put in a clinical performance to overcome Waikato 26-14 at Westpac Stadium, with winger Julian Savea starring for the Lions.
Savea was on form on Saturday and was one of the three Wellington scorers. However, it was his all-round game that saw him pick up the man-of-the-match award as he set up Daniel Ramsay for a try and was a constant threat.
The Lions were leading 16-9 at the break thanks to tries from Savea and Ramsay's and a penalty and drop-goal from Fa'atonu Fili. Opposing back Trent Renata knocked over Waikato's first-half points, with Jack Lam crossing for their only try of the game which came in the second-half.
But it was hooker Dane Coles' score in the second 40 that put the seal on matters as Wellington edged the game to climb up the ITM Cup ladder.
It was a rather cagey opening at Westpac Stadium as the opening fifteen minutes saw only penalties and a drop-goal trouble the scorers.
But the Lions were beginning to stamp their authority on the clash as Fili's sound territorial game helped their cause. A score was certainly coming as Hosea Gear came close to scoring before the half-hour.
The breakthrough came though following a Renata penalty. Wellington responded and how with two tries in six minutes giving them a 16-9 lead at half-time.
It was first Savea who broke the deadlock with an impressive individual effort that saw him go over in the corner before lock Ramsay was sent over by Faifili Levave's slip pass. Fili missed both conversions.
The Mooloo men returned from the sheds on good form and cut the lead down to just two points when Lam crossed after good work from Aled de Malmanche.
But again it was all about field position and Wellington had it. And with Savea and Gear cutting holes in the Waikato defence, it was Alby Mathewson who capitalised with a good break that led to Coles getting his score on 56 minutes. Fili's extras and another penalty extended the lead to 26-14.
Waikato did push hard late on but it was not to be as the Lions held on.
Tries: Savea, Ramsay, Coles
Pen: Fili 2
Pen: Renata 3
Wellington: 15 Apoua Stewart, 14 Julian Salvea, 13 Shaun Treeby, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Fa'atonu Fili, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Mark Reddish, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata (c), 2 Dane Coles, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: Ged Robinson, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Api Naikatini, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Ruki Tipuna, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Alapati Leuia.
Waikato: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Tren Renata, 9 Brendon Leonard; 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 3 Nathan White (c), 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Hikairo Forbes, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Matt Vant Leven, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Tim Mikkelson.