Wellington has beaten Waikato 34-10 in Hamilton to further extend their lead at the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Championship ladder.
The Lions have run in five tries to secure a bonus point and their sixth win from seven matches under first year coach Chris Gibbes.
Gibbes will be pleased with the way his side eased away from Waikato after the match was poised at 10-all at halftime, but not so impressed by two yellow cards, to hooker Asafo Aumua and second five Regan Verney.
Aumua was sinbinned after 10 minutes for a no arms obstruction on a Waikato attacker and Regan Verney followed in the 55th minute, for not rolling away from a ruck, after Wellington were warned for repeated infringements.
Despite playing with 14 men for 20 minutes, Wellington held their composure on both occasions. They conceded only three points with Aumua off the field, and scored two tries while Verney watched on in the second half.
Asafo Aumua. PHOTO: Getty Sport
The win was Welllington’s third of the season over Premiership rivals after wins over Taranaki and Canterbury.
Waikato proved a tough customer in Hamilton where they dominated territory and possession during the first half as the Lions made uncharacteristic errors.
Wellington led 8-3 as halftime approached following a try to big lock Sam Lousi, but conceded a try to Waikato centre Bailyn Sullivan almost off the kick off and the teams headed to the sheds locked at 10-10.
Kemara Hauiti-Parpara with Mateaki Kafatolu in support. PHOTO: Getty Sport
The second half was a different story as the Lions hit their straps.
Centre Thomas Umaga-Jensen got the ball rolling early in the second half when he burst onto a long flat pass from halfback Sheridan Ranginhuna and went close to scoring himself. Kirkpatrick finished the movement in the corner to make it 15-10 and the Lions slowly but surely gained momentum.
Gibbes made some astute subs with about 10 minutes after the break, changing his halves combination and pitching abrasive lock Chris Middleton, into the action for his Lions debut.
Sheridan Rangihuna and Regan Verney defend. PHOTO: Getty Sport
Verney headed to the sinbin, but Wellington didn’t blink.
Blindiside Mateaki Kafatolu was one of the Lions best and his hard work paid off when he was on hand to burrow over from a Lousi off load close to the line.
Garden Bachop’s conversion made it 22-10 with 18 mins to play and then the Lions cut loose.
Umaga-Jensen capitalised on a Malo Tuitama counter attack to slip past his opposite Sullivan for a well taken try, then Garden-Bachop burst into space and linked with Kafatolu and Middleton to lay on a try to prop Alex Fidow.
Mateaki Kafatolu. PHOTO: Getty Sport
Suddenly the score had ballooned out to 34-10 and the Lions were comfortable winners.
The Lions bench was integral to the second half performance with young Marist St Pats centre Billy Proctor among them as he followed older brother Matt into the Wellington representative ranks.
Wellington's next match is against Otago at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, October 1.
Wellington 34 (Sam Lousi, Dan Kirkpatrick, Mateaki Kafatolu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Alex Fidow, Kirkpatrick pen, con, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con) Waikato 10 (Baylin Sullivan try, Sevu Reece con, pen). HT: 10-10.