Three for three.
The Wellington Lions perfect start to the Mitre 10 Cup has continued with a 31-10 win over Bay of Plenty in Rotorua.
The Lions scored five tries to the home side’s one to secure maximum points for the third week running to take an early lead at the top of the Championship ladder.
In slippery conditions the Lions took command against the Steamers in the opening minutes and wing Malo Tuitama strolled over untouched to get the score board moving.
But there were no easy points on offer against a Bay of Plenty side brimming with confidence after a big win over Hawke’s Bay the previous week.
Wellington were more than up for the arm wrestle with big locks Sam Lousi and Isaia Walker-Leawere and senior prop Jeff To’omaga-Allen leading the way up front.
Walker-Leawere was next to score when he burrowed over from close range to give Wellington a hard fought 12-0 lead at halftime.
Wellington coach Chris Gibbes will be most pleased with the second half after his side withstood a spirited Bay of Plenty comeback of sorts.
The Lions looked to be asserting complete dominance when first five Jackson Garden-Bachop cleverly chipped over the defence for wing Ben Lam to score after 50 minutes for a 17-3 lead before the home side’s fight back.
When second five Terrance Hepetema scored from a Mike Delany chip kick with 25 minutes to play the Lions fans could have been forgiven for feeling a little nervous.
They needn’t have worried.
With hooker Asafo Aumua increasingly influential with ball in hand replacement openside James Tuiatuia full of energy, the ship never looked like listing.
Centre Wes Goosen cleverly released in the tackle then got up and scooted away for a try with 15 to play, then Aumua barged over from close range to make the margin of victory comfortable.
On a night where Tuiatua, young half back Carlos Price, lock Will Mangos and wing Losi Filipo all made their Mitre 10 Cup debut, Wellington left as convincing winners.
The Championship pace setters, and their fans, can now look toward their next match, against Hawke’s Bay in Wellington next Wednesday, with a degree of confidence.
Wellington 31 (Malo Tuitama, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Ben Lam, Wes Goosen, Asafo Aumua tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con) Bay of Plenty 10 (Terrence Hepetema try; Mike Delany pen, con) . HT: 12-0.