Hawkes Bay always present a stiff challenge to their brothers from Wellington and tonight's ITM Cup encounter in the capital was no different.

Wellington ran out eventual winners 30-15 but were made to work for their competition points as their black-and-white hooped opponents from 291km up the North Island led the contest until the 64th minute.

A Dane Coles try just after the hour-mark gave the Lions an advantage they would never surrender, but new Wellington coach Chris Boyd was left with plenty to think about.

Despite the dry conditions at Westpac Stadium, Wellington struggled with their handling and also lacked continuity in attack, which could have been down to early-season jitters.


They lacked shape in the opening spell and the game came in to life only in the final half hour as the Lions wore Hawkes Bay down and forced to make a lot of tackles on defence.

The final score flattered the hosts who racked up an all-important bonus point for scoring four tries when former St Patrick's College, Silverstream pupil Jason Woodward crossed the stripe with only a few minutes left.

Woodward also booted two conversions and a couple of penalties in a man-of-the-match display.

Earlier, Wellington opened proceedings when Woodward knocked over a penalty from close range in the sixth minute before Hawkes Bay reclaimed the ascendancy with a try to All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot.

Woodward returned served with another penalty before Magpies first-five Daniel Waenga danced through a gap to score under the posts and when he converted his own try the visitors took a handy 15-6 advantage with them to the half-time break.

In the second spell Wellington clawed their way back in to the contest with All Black Victor Vito making his presence felt as he scored from a seldom-seen pushover try.

His combination with openside flanker Scot Fuglistaller was a feature for Wellington who were led well around the paddock by Tim Bateman who continued to show promise in the unfamiliar No 10 jumper.

Prop Arden David-Perrot also managed to cross for a try out wide before Woodward finished the job.


Wellington face a quick turnaround when they host Southland at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon as they look to remain unbeaten.

For the Magpies it continued a disappointing start to their campaign after they were edged 36-29 by Auckland in Napier last Thursday night.

Wellington 30 (Victor Vito, Dane Coles, Arden David-Perrot, Jason Woodward tries; Woodward 2 pen, 2 con) Hawkes Bay 15 (Hika Elliot, Daniel Waenga tries; Waenga pen, con) HT: 6-15.