A near flawless kicking display from Wellington flyhalf Lima Sopoaga secured a hard-fought 30-25 victory over Southland and lifted his side off the bottom of the National Provincial Championship table.
Southland outscored their hosts by four tries to three but their goal-kicking was nowhere near as accurate as that of Sopoaga, who slotted six out of his seven kicks at poles, which proved to be the crucial difference between the sides.
Wellington took a slender 13-10 lead into the half-time break after tries to Josh Bekhuis and Matt Saunders for Southland were cancelled out by a five-pointer to Apoua Stewart's combined with Sopoaga's accuracy off the kicking tee.
The visitors took the lead early in the second half when Saunders got over for his second try before Tony Koonwaiyou secured the bonus point for Southland but Wellington fought back well and a late brace from Brad Shields helped secure a much-needed victory for the relegation-threatened outfit from the capital.
Marty McKenzie managed to kick a late penalty for Southland which ensured that they took two log points from the encounter as they bid to avoid the chop at the end of the season as well.
Tries: Stewart, Shields 2
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pens: Sopoaga 3
Tries: Bekhuis, Saunders 2, Koonwaiyou
Wellington: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Alipate Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Dean Brunsdon, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush (captain), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Joe Latta, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Frae Wilson, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Steve Honey, 23 Whetu Henry.
Southland: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Glen Horton, 10 James Wilson, 9 Scott Cowan, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Ben Nally, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Nick Barrett, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (captain).
Replacements: 16 David Hall, 17 Chris King, 18 Michael Fatialofa, 19 Tom Chamberlain, 20 Sonny Rangitohereri, 21 Marty McKenzie, 22 Tony Koonwaiyou, 23 Michael Peterson
Referee: Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri
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