Sportal.co.nz 24.Aug.2012Getty Images
Lions coach Chris Boyd suggested earlier in the week that the crossover matches between premiership and championship sides had the potential to be a banana skin but Wellington negotiated theirs easily enough thanks to tries to No.8 Ardie Savea, second five-eighth Shaun Treeby and captain Jeremy Thrush.
Fullback Jason Woodward added a further 15 points with the boot in a solid opening outing for the Lions who play Hawke's Bay in the capital on Tuesday night.
Manawatu's points came from two Nathan George penalties and a late try to David Te Moana.
The Turbos had the better of the opening quarter of the match at FMG Stadium as they put the heat on Wellington up front. The home side recycled the ball well using Nick Crosswell and Hamish Gosling to carry it up.
But they had to settle for a George penalty to get them off the mark in the eighth minute despite dominating possession and territory.
Woodward levelled the scores in the 17th minute and from there it was the visitors who took control.
Wellington's backs began to make headway through the Turbos midfield with Treeby, Charlie Ngatai and Alapati Leiua making big inroads in particular on the counter-attack.
They were eventually rewarded with a scrum five metres from Manawatu's line and Savea picked up off the back and powered his way over under the posts with Woodward adding the extras.
George replied with a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points but Manawatu were struggling to contain the visitors and it wasn't long before Treeby dotted down for Wellington's second off another set-piece move from a scrum.
This time halfback Frae Wilson fired the ball out to Tim Bateman whose inside pop pass put Leiua into a huge gap. The right winger glided past several Turbos players before he was caught just short of the line and Treeby finished off under the posts. Woodward again added the extras.
A Woodward penalty early in the second half extended Wellington's lead to 20-6 and Manawatu's task became even harder a few minutes later when Lions captain Jeremy Thrush was driven over for his side's third, which the fullback converted.
He was on target again with a third penalty in the 65th minute but it was the Turbos who had the final say when Te Moana burrowed over four minutes from time.
Wellington 30 (A.Savea, S.Treeby, J.Thrush tries; J.Woodyard 3 cons, 3 pens) Manawatu 11 (D. Te Moana try; N.George 2 pens) HT: 17-6