Wellington secured a place in the ITM Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a tough 27-14 win over Southland in Invercargill.
Wellington secured a place in the ITM Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a 27-14 win over Southland in Invercargill.
The Lions scored seventeen unanswered points in the second half to overturn a four-point deficit at half time to condemn Southland to their fourth consecutive loss.
The result sees Wellington climb to third in the standings, above Taranaki on points difference, but they must now wait for the outcome Auckland's home game with Tasman to find out whether they will face Canterbury or Waikato in the play-offs. (Auckland must win to make the semi-finals.)
The hosts 14-10 at half time thanks to tries from full-back Glen Horton and midfielder James Wilson but Wellington came storming back in the second period as wing Alapati Leiua and replacement hooker Ged Robinson scored to add to centre Tajhon Mailata's first-half try.
Southland tried to play high-risk rugby but made far too many of mistakes and few would deny that Wellington deserved their win.
Discarded All Black Victor Vito had a strong game at the back of the scrum for Wellington while Liam Sopoaga kicked all three conversions and two penalties.
Southland took the early lead when Horton finished off a period of sustained attack.
Wellington moved ahead just before the end of the first quarter when Mailata dummied and broke through the defence from 40 metres out to score to add to Sopoaga's earlier penalty.
Southland regained the lead on the half-hour mark Wilson gathered in a chip ahead by Mark Wells and sprinted home from 40 m to the line. Robinson's conversion made it 14-10.
The Lions moved ahead early in the second half thanks to a 60m intercept try from wing Leuia. Sopoaga the extended the lead to 20-14 with another penalty.
The killer blow came when Southland fly-half Robinson lost the ball in his in-goal area twelve minutes from time. His namesake from Wellington pounced on the loose ball and pinned it to the post for the visitors third and decisive try.
Tries: Horton, Wilson
Cons: R. Robinson 2
Tries: Mailata, Leuia, G. Robinson
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pens: Sopoaga 2
Southland: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Mark Wells, 13 Matt Saunders, 12 James Wilson, 11 Tony Koonwaiyou, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Sonny Rangitoheriri, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Nic Barrett, 18 Alex Ryan, 19 Hua Tamariki, 20 Scott Cowan, 21 Seminar Manu, 22 Dion Bates.
Wellington: 15 Apoua Stewart, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Tajhon Mailata, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Api Naikatini, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Dane Coles, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Brad Shields, 19 Dean Brunsdon, 20 Fa'atonu Fili/Ruki Tipuna, 21 Shaun Treeby, 22 Buxton Popoalii.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence