Wellington ran out comfortable 52-23 winners over an error-plagued North Harbour outfit in Sunday's ITM Cup match played at Albany.
Harbour had worked hard to hold Wellington to 20-20 at halftime, but the visitors ran in five second-half tries through some woeful defence to secure the bonus-point win.
The Lions earned their fourth consecutive victory over North Harbour and their sixth in 11 competition games this season on the back of a committed all-round team performance, also aided by the guiding hands of returning All Blacks Piri Weepu at fly-half and Victor Vito at number eight.
The tight five worked well and the outside backs were too slick for their Harbour opposites, with wingers Alapati Leiua (2) and Julian Savea scoring three outstanding tries over the final 15 minutes to seal the well-deserved win.
North Harbour centre Mike Harris kicked the first points of the second half to put his side in front 23-20, before the Lions scored decisive tries to flanker Scott Fuglistaller and lock Jeremy Thrush.
Thrush's try in the 60th minute, the result of the Lions exuding pressure on North Harbour's line-out, was the bonus-point try and proved the match-winner Wellington putting them ahead 37-23.
With the maximum five ITM Cup points earned from this win, The Lions moved to 33 points on the ladder to keep them in touch of the top four with two matches to play against Taranaki at Westpac Stadium this coming Saturday and Southland away in the last round.
For North Harbour:
Tries: Botica, Luamanu
Cons: Harris 2
Pens: Harris 3
Tries: Schwalger, Mathewson, Fuglistaller, Thrush, Leiua 2, Savea
Cons: Weepu 4
Pens: Weepu 3
North Harbour: 15 Ken Pisi, 14 Jack Tarrant, 13 Alipate Fatafehi, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Chris Smylie (c), 8 Matt Luamanu, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 James Parsons, 1 James Afoa.
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Taione Vea, 18 James King, 19 Scott Uren, 20 Grayson Hart, 21 Nico Ratumaitavuki, 22 Josh York.
Wellington: 15 Apoua Stewart, 14 Julian Savea/Buxton Popoalii, 13 Tajhon Mailata, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Api Naikatini, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Dane Coles, 1 John Schwalger.
Repacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Nick Passi, 19 Dean Brunsdon, 20 Lima Sopoaga, 21 Shaun Treeby, 22 Buxton Popoalii/Julian Savea.
Referee: Glen Jackson