Wellington will hopefully gain a bit of belief from today's faltering win over Northland, in Whangarei.
The Lions looked anything but NPC leaders for most of the match, but found a way to win ugly, which hasn't always been their hallmark.
They've generally preferred to look a million bucks when they win, but fold up the tent and lose convincingly on the days when they're playing poorly.
They gutsed it out against the Taniwha, though, and should be able to take the resolve they showed and turn it into the confidence that all teams need in order to contend for titles.
Northland aren't a great rugby side, but possess plenty of heart and their effort at Toll Stadium couldn't be faulted. A lesser side than Wellington might have succumbed to that, but the Lions stood staunch.
The match came down to a 10 minute period shortly after halftime. Trailing 15-10, Northland launched sustained pressure on the Wellington line, only to come away with nothing to show for it. Having withstood that, the Lions took off down field and scored tries through replacement wing Ambrose Curtis and centre Tim Bateman.
That put the result beyond doubt and gave Wellington their fifth bonus-point win in as many starts.
Earlier, hooker Motu Matu'u, lock Ross Filipo and flanker Ardie Savea had scored brilliant counter-attacking tries. Northland enjoyed all the territory and possession in the first spell, but couldn't live with the Lions' speed and athleticism when the ball was turned over.
Those three occasions were just about the only times Wellington did anything useful with the ball in the first 40 minutes. The important thing was that they turned those moments into points and they could've had a lot more, if first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga had kicked better.
He missed his first five shots at goal, which kept the game closer than it actually was. Instead of 15-0 at halftime, it should have been 26-10 and pretty much game over.
The Lions now host Bay of Plenty at Westpac Stadium on Thursday night.
Wellington 30 (Motu Matu'u, Ross Filipo, Ardie Savea, Ambrose Curtis, Tim Bateman tries; Lima Sopoaga pen, con) Northland 10 (Tom Murday try; Ben Seymour pen, con). HT: 15-10.
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