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Northland started the final round of the Mitre 10 Cup in second place in the Championship but could now drop as low as fifth after failing to pick up a bonus point in losing to Wellington 36-18 at Westpac Stadium.
The Lions have been a cut above the rest of the Championship all season and did not let their standards slip in their final regular season outing — despite already having top spot secured.
The return of Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields and Julian Savea to the Wellington line-up had a big impact with each player involved in key moments.
Wellington has shown an ability all season to lift its tempo at will, and they did just that early in the second half with a three-try burst in 20 minutes to effectively end Northland’s hopes.
The impressive burst was spear-headed by explosive front rowers, Alex Fidow and Asafo Aumua who caused plenty of problems for the Northland defence and both crossed for tries.
Wellington 36 (Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Asafo Aumua 2, Alex Fidow, Julian Savea tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop try, 3 con), Northland 18 (Jordan Hyland, Jack Goodhue tries; Dan Hawkins con, 2 pen). Halftime: 12-10