Wellington's tight five gave rookie No 8 Ardie Savea an armchair ride as they overwhelmed Manawatu with a 30-11 win in Palmerston North.
True to captain Jeremy Thrush's word in the build-up to the season, the Lions forwards flexed their muscles with a dominant display over their championship division neighbours.
The front row of Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles and Reggie Goodes ensured a decisive edge at the scrum - each of the Lions' three tries to Savea, Shaun Treeby and Thrush came directly from a set piece.
But it was around the park that the Lions' greater number of Super Rugby players told and they dominated most of the collisions and provided a glut of front-foot ball for a backline that made plenty of line breaks.
Wellington coach Chris Boyd had the luxury of ringing the changes, including changing his entire front row with 20 minutes to play, a smart call with just four days till they play Hawke's Bay at Westpac Stadium on Tuesday.
By the time Boyd cleared the bench it was 27-6 and Wellington had their four premiership points in the bag and their first win over Manawatu in three years.
The midfield of Charlie Ngatai and Shaun Treeby, and wing Alapati Leiua, found plenty of holes in the backs and Savea's leg drive and work rate stood out before he was subbed with 18 minutes to play.
For Manawatu, it was a reminder of the task they face, particularly in their crossover matches and they will get no respite with Auckland waiting at Eden Park next Sunday.
It was not all bleak for the Turbos - New Zealand under 20s player Jason Emery was a shining light after replacing Nathan George at first five-eighth on the 50 minute mark.
Emery sparked the attack, wing Craig Clare looked dangerous, and replacements, fullback Lewis Marshall and prop David Te Moaana, also provided some impetus - the latter barging over for a late try.
Manawatu had made a strong start with their forwards meeting the Wellington challenge with hooker Rob Foreman the standout.
George kicked an early penalty for the home side, but by the time Jason Woodward equalled the scores after a scrum penalty on 17 minutes, the tide was starting to turn.
When Wellington gained a scrum in front of the posts, Jeremy Thrush had no hesitation in turning down the shot at goal.
Toomaga-Allen provided the grunt and 18-year-old Savea used his explosiveness to burst over for his first NPC try.
A second George penalty made it 10-6, but Wellington were finding their rhythm, particularly at scrum time.
Treeby was under the posts after a lovely set piece move that saw first five-eighth Tim Bateman turn the ball inside to Leiua, who burst through to provide the final pass for a 17-6 halftime lead.
Wellington upped the ante after the break, turning down another shot at goal and then shunting Thrush over from the ensuing lineout drive. Woodward's third penalty soon after made it 30-6 with 15 minutes to play.
Emery showed skill and courage to take the ball to the line and created numerous line breaks, but ball retention and a fast moving Wellington defensive line plagued the Turbos' efforts.
Wellington 30 (Ardie Savea, Shaun Treeby, Jeremy Thrush tries, Jason Woodward 3 pens, 3 cons)
Manawatu 11 (David Te Moana try, Nathan George 2 pens).
- © Fairfax NZ News