The Lions looked good, getting well away from Auckland early in the second half of last night’s Mitre 10 Cup premiership match at Westpac Stadium. But Wellington’s 70 per cent of territory in the first half and a 14-point lead after half-time came to naught, as Auckland rallied to win 29-24.
Despite pushing Auckland hard in the first half, the Lions went into the break with just a 10-7 lead, after great defence from captain Matt Proctor and wing Malo Tuitama resulted in a try-saving tackle under the goal posts.
With two unconverted tries early in the second half, to Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Ben Lam, Wellington looked set to bounce back from Saturday’s loss to Tasman with the score at 24-10.
But Auckland’s table-topping form saw them storm back into the match with three unanswered tries in 13 minutes, then kept the Lions at bay to hold on for the win.
Auckland remain top of the table, while Wellington must win their last game next week – an away match in New Plymouth against Taranaki – to take the fourth spot in the semifinals after Tasman and Canterbury.
North Harbour, with two games in hand, may yet pip them at the post.
Auckland 29 (Tumua Manu, TJ Faiane, Salesi Rayasi, Jordan Trainor tries; Harry Plummer 2 con, pen)
Wellington 24 (Galu Taufale, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con, pen).