Wellington made up for last week's loss to Auckland after roaring to a 37-28 ITM Cup win over Canterbury on Wednesday.
Wellington made up for last week's loss to Auckland after roaring to an impressive 37-28 ITM Cup win over Canterbury on Wednesday.
The Lions came back from from 3-14 down midway through the first half, to blast past the three-time defending champions and beat Canterbury for the first time since 2008.
In an emphatic period of play throughout the middle of the match, Wellington turned the contest on its head by scoring 34 unanswered points to race to a 37-14 lead.
However, Canterbury never gave up and they closed the margin back up with a pair of consolation tries at the end.
Lions pivot Lima Sopoaga added 17 points off the kicking tee, including all four conversions and three penalties.
Wellington had been stung in just the first minute of play when they couldn't control the opening kick-off and Canterbury pounced for the first try of the match to centre Robbie Fruean and took a 7-0 lead.
The Lions answered with a Sopoaga penalty, but Canterbury pulled further ahead with another runaway try in broken play to inside centre Tom Taylor.
Wellington hit back with their first try to Taylor's opposite number Michael Hobbs, following an attacking run by Lions full-back Apoua Stewart who charged up and into Canterbury's 22. Hobbs darted over to score from close range.
Sopoaga's conversion closed the deficit to 10-14, and added his second penalty a few minutes later that closed the gap to just a point.
Wellington flank Scott Fuglistaller was next to cross the Canterbury whitewash for the Lions after receiving a pass close to the line by centre Alapati Leiua and flew through to finish off.
Sopoaga's conversion made it 20-14, putting the Lions ahead for the first time in the match and that's where the scores stayed at half-time.
The Lions made a telling start to the second half with a sizzling try to Victor Vito, created in part by loosehead prop Jacob Ellison whose short pass ran the All Black in space. Vito sprinted 20 metres to score another seven-pointer that extended the lead to 27-14.
Sopoaga kicked his third penalty to extend the lead to 30-14 and a three-score advantage over the Cantabrians.
Still hunting for their fourth try, replacement scrum-half Frae Wilson darted over from close-range to score the match-clinching try and all-important bonus point.
Canterbury closed out the game with two tries to replacement front row forwards Nepo Laulala and Ben Funnell to finish with a consolation bonus point for their efforts.
Tries: Hobbs, Fuglistaller, Vito, Wilson
Cons: Sopoaga 4
Pens: Sopoaga 3
Tries: Fruean, Taylor, Laulala, Funnell
Cons: Taylor, Bleyendaal 2
Wellington: 15 Apoua Stewart, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Alipate Leiua, 12 Michael Hobbs, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Whetu Henry, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Jacob Ellison.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Arden David-Perrot, 18 Api Naikatini, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Dean Brunsdon, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Michael Lealava'a, 23 Reg Goodes.
Canterbury: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Matt Thatcher, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Mark Swanepoel, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Ash Parker (c), 5 Joel Everson, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Andrew Olorenshaw, 2 Paul Ngauamo, 1 Paea Fa'anunu.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Nepo Laulala, 18 Reuben Thorne, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Takerei Norton, 22 Robbie Flynn, 23 Sam Cottam.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence