The Mitre 10 Cup premiership semi-finals are next on the Wellington Lions schedule for 2018 after a convincing 34-10 win over the newly relegated Taranaki side in New Plymouth last night.
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Played in tough conditions at Yarrow Stadium, the Lions got the bonus point victory that guarantees them a spot on the play-offs just a year after being promoted from the championship.
It was always going to be a night when the players simply had to knuckle down to their work and that was exactly what the visitors did as they played into a strong wind for the opening 40.
Despite facing the elements it was Wellington who controlled most of the first half possession as they played sensible, no frills rugby.
The end result after 40 minutes was a well deserved 12-10 lead following tries to Vaea Fifita and Teariki Ben-Nicholas, the latter just before the end of the half.
That lead meant Wellington were always favoured to extend their advantage in the second half if they continued to work hard and that’s what happened as they added a further three tries to make sure they would not be waiting until Sunday to see if they had made the top four.
As well as the great result, the Lions got to see Dane Coles return to action after his almost year-long break from the game while there was plenty of players who really put their hand up for selection next week.
The forwards work ethic was superb throughout and the backs did everything they could in the difficult conditions.
The Lions now just wait to see who and when they will be playing in the semi-final.
Wellington 34 (Vaea Fifita, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Matt Proctor, Malo Tuitama, Sitiveni Paongo tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2con, pen, Trent Renata con)
Taranaki 10 (Warwick Lahmert try; Beaudein Waaka con, pen)