Bay of Plenty thrashed Wellington 32-0 to stay undefeated in the ITM Cup at Mt Maunganui on Sunday.
The win for the Steamers was their biggest ever over Wellington and was also their third in succession over the Lions.
Bay of Plenty kicked a penalty and scored three tries in the opening half hour of play in establishing a match winning 22-0 lead. The second half was scoreless until the final 10 minutes when the home team added a second penalty and their bonus-point try at the end.
The Lions were met by an in-form Steamers side that played an outstanding territorial game and met Wellington with fast, physical close-quarter defence.
Bay of Plenty's line-out was on-song throughout and they enjoyed 68 percent territory in the first half as the Lions struggled for attacking momentum at the right end of the field.
With the setting sun at their backs, Bay of Plenty made the early running in the match and halfback Taniela Moa darted through close to a ruck for the opening try and pivot Chris Noakes converted for an early 7-0 lead.
The Lions weathered the early storm, centre Alapati Leiua making their first clean break of the game up into open space after 15 minutes. His pass went to ground, one of several frustrating chances that went astray.
Noakes struck a 45-metre penalty that increased the home side's lead to 10-0 with a quarter of the game gone.
Maintaining a territorial advantage, the Steamers attacked from a scrum in prime position, just outside the 22 in centre field. Bay of Plenty set up several phases and Moa offloaded to hooker John Pareanga who dived over for their second try. Noakes' conversion put them ahead 17-0.
The Bay of Plenty forwards surged back on to attack and picked and drove towards the goal line. There was no way through near the posts, so they so they spun the ball wide and centre Phil Burleigh crashed over near the corner to score their third try.
Noakes missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty just before half-time and the Steamers went into the break leading 22-0.
Searching for a spark, the Lions made three changes to their forwards pack at halftime, with Brad Shields, Serge Lilo and Reggie Goodes all joining the fray. Frae Wilson came on for halfback TJ Perenara just after the interval.
Lions full-back Jason Woodward and Noakes traded unsuccessful long range penalties straight after half-time, before a run up into the Steamers' 22 by Wodward led to a penalty. But the ball was turned over from the subsequent lineout and the chance was lost.
Both sides probed for opportunities over the next stanza of play, but it was Bay of Plenty that went the closest from a lineout penalty into the corner and a series of close-quarter drives at the line. The Lions held on but with the clock starting to wind down they were in need of tries.
Instead Noakes struck the first points of the second half with his second penalty of the match, extending the lead to 25-0.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Lions kept attacking up into the Steamers' end of the field, but their defence remained strong, particularly at the breakdowns, and more passes failed to stick.
Then, in the shadows of full-time, Bay of Plenty broke free in open play and full-back Toby Arnold finished off the long-range movement to score the home side's bonus point try.
For Bay of Plenty:
Tries: Moa, Pareanga, Burleigh, Arnold
Cons: Noakes 3
Pens: Noakes 2
Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Steve Kefu, 11 Lance MacDonald, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Taniela Moa, 7 Luke Braid, 8 Colin Bourke (c), 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Luke Andrews, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 John Pareanga, 1 Tristan Moran.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Perrin, 17 Pingi Tala'apitanga, 18 Leighton Price, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Daniel Waenga, 22 Ben W Smith, 23 Bronson Murray.
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 Faifili Levave, 5 Api Naikatini, 4 Jeremy Thrush (captain), 3 Whetu Henry, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Jacob Ellison.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Arden David-Perrot, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Serge Lilo, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Michael Lealava'a, 23 Reg Goodes.
Referee: Vinny Munro