A rare hat-trick from their hooker helped Wellington dispatch a determined Northland tonight and leave the Taniwha still searching for their first win of the season.
Asafo Aumua became just the fourth hooker in division one history to score a trio of tries, keeping Wellington within touching distance of Otago atop the Mitre 10 Championship.
Aumua, a New Zealand under-20s representative, enjoyed an opportunistic streak and illustrated some clinical close-range finishing, scoring once before halftime before crossing twice more in a five-minute second-half spell that decided the match.
In truth, Wellington should have been well clear at Toll Stadium before the scoring spree from their rake. The high-flying Lions, who recorded their fifth win from six games, controlled possession throughout, with only Northland's dogged defending keeping the home side in the contest.
That was especially clear during a first half in which Wellington were allowed more than 70 per cent possession, seizing a 17-0 lead after only 15 minutes through tries from Hoani Matenga and Aumua.
But Northland tackled well and managed to make the most of their limited opportunities with ball in hand. First Peter Breen was denied due to a clear obstruction and then Solomona Alaimalo showed enough pace to scamper across the line after Wellington were caught short through a quick tap.
The Taniwha, though, were conceding too many penalties to cage the Lions for long, with the visitors continuing their stranglehold on possession in the second spell. And all the pressure eventually told, although Northland's cause certainly wasn't help when Kara Pryor was sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Shaun Treeby.
Wellington certainly found playing against 14 men to their liking and Aumua soon struck twice more, set up first by Sam Lousi's offload before finding himself in space on the right to complete his hat-trick.
Northland 21 (S. Alaimalo, M. Matich, S. Neville tries; P. Breen 3 cons)
Wellington 29 (H. Matenga, A. Aumua 3 tries; J. Garden-Bachop 3 cons, pen)