Bay of Plenty's challenge to win the Mitre 10 Cup Championship fell at the final hurdle in Wellington tonight.
The Steamers went down 59-45 to the home side at Westpac Stadium after a pulsating final that needed 20 minutes of extra time after it was 40-40 at the end of regular time.
Wellington have scored more tries this season than any other in their history and that firepower was the difference in the end.
There was much to like about the passion and determination shown by the Steamers throughout the final they came so close to winning.
Captain Keepa Mewett said after the match he "was very proud of the boys tonight".
"Initially we thought we would have to play pretty hard for 80 minutes and we did, but it turned out to be a 100 minute game. It was a very tough game. It always was going to be. They have some very explosive individuals, they play some pretty good shape, some very good code."
Mewett hopes this is the start of a consistent level of performances to come from the Steamers.
"We have been building for a few years. We had a fait bit of confidence going into this game that we had matured as a province, and we definitely have, but there is still a little bit of a way to go before we can jump up into that top tier."
Bay of Plenty got off to the best possible start with a try to halfback Luke Campbell after three minutes. Mike Delany converted for a 7-0 lead.
Wellington scored a runaway try against the run of play by Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
Steamers winger Joe Webber then scored a brilliant individual try from an aimless kick 40 metres out to silence the home crowd. Delany converted superbly from wide out to give the Bay a 14-5 lead after 24 minutes.
But the rest of the half belonged to the Wellington Lions who used their big, athletic ball runners to good effect as the Steamers began to fall off tackles.
Sam Lousi and Tolu Fahamokioa scored combative tries to give Wellington the lead 20-14 at the break.
The opening kick-off was a disaster for the Steamers as Shields charged down a clearing kick by Delany and scored in the corner 14 seconds into the second half.
Bay of Plenty came storming back to 28-28 with a cheeky intercept by No 8 Tyler Ardron and a candidate for try of the year from Webber.
Fahamokioa crashed over for his second try immediately replicated by Steamers Jesse Parete to make it 33-33 with 17 minutes to play.
With just seven minutes left Wellington prop Alex Fidow scored the crucial points after 15 phases at the Bay line. Garden-Bachop converted to lead 40-33 from the tee with five minutes left to play.
Hepetema finished off a Tiatia break to score near the posts. Delany converted to tie the game 40-40 with a minute to play.
With time up Bay of Plenty were penalised to give Bachop a chance to win the game for Wellington from 40 metres but he missed to send the game into extra time.
Wellington dominated from the restart, scoring three tries to lead 59-40 but the Steamers never gave up. Parete set up an attack for a try disallowed by the TMO before Mitch Karpik scored after the final hooter but it was all over by then.
Wellington 59 (Tolu Fahamokioa 2, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Sam Lousi, Brad Shields, Alex Fidow, Wes Goosen, Siteveni Paongo, Julian Savea tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 con, 2 pen) Bay of Plenty 45 (Joe Webber 2, Luke Campbell Tyler Ardron, Jesse Parete, Terrence Hepetema, Mitch Karpik tries; Mike Delany 4 cons) Halftime 20-14 Wellington, full-time 40-40