Wellington extended their lead at the top of the ITM Cup table after beating Waikato 19-14 in Hamilton on Friday.
As the the scoreline suggests, this was a closely fought battle and only resilient defence, in the game's closing stages, helped the visitors to retain their unbeaten record in the competition.
As the the scoreline suggests, this was a close match and only resilient defence in the game's closing stages helped the visitors to retain their unbeaten record in the competition.
Trent Renata got the game's opening points, via a penalty in the seventh minute, before the match came alive in the 12th minute through a try by Wellington left wing Afa Fa'atau.
This after Victor Vito set up the five-pointer by drawing in several defenders before passing to Charlie Ngatai who offloaded to Fa'atau. Lima Sopoaga added the extras to give the Lions a 7-3 lead.
Waikato held their own for most of the half but Wellington extended their lead with their second try in the 29th minute. They showed great patience to take the ball through 12 phases before Tomasi Palu put Joe Hill in the clear with a perfectly-timed pass. The full-back got in for the try after selling the defence a clever dummy.
Waikato got their only try, five minutes, later when Ben Tameifuna shrugged off three defenders from close quarters which meant that Wellingon held a 14-8 lead at half-time.
The table-toppers' only points after the break came in the 50th minute when Ardie Savea scored their third try, after fine inter-play with Hill and Renata kicked two further penalties for the hosts.
The result means that Wellington have stretched their unbeaten run to eight matches.
Pen: Renata 3
Tries: Fa'atau, Hill, Savea
Con: Sopoaga 2
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Sam Christie, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Nick Ross, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vance Elliot, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Sean Hohneck, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Joe Perawiti, 22 Joe Webber.
Wellington: 15 Joe Hill, 14 Ambrose Curtis, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Afa Fa'atau, 10 Liam Sopoaga, 9 Tomasi Palu, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Kaipati Gaualofa, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 John Schwalger, 17 Eric Sione, 18 Faifil Levave, 19 Genesis Mamea, 20 Kayne Hammington, 21 Tau Mamea, 22 J Garden-Bishop.
Referee: Glen Jackson