Asafo Aumua scored a hat-trick as in-form Wellington extended their winning run to four Mitre 10 Cup matches with a 29-21 victory at bottom side Northland.
Northland dropped to the foot of the Championship when Southland beat Bay of Plenty on Wednesday and remain there despite a battling second-half display in Whangarei.
Hoani Matenga's early try set the tone and the Lions led 17-7 at half-time after hooker Aumua crashed over following a catch and drive from the lineout.
Aumua added another two tries within 11 minutes of the restart and Jackson Garden-Bachop took his tally from the tee to nine points as Wellington capitalised on Kara Pryor's time in the sin bin.
But Northand fought back and converted scores from Matt Matich and Shane Neville gave them hope of securing a first win of the season.
Wellington were not to be denied, though, and as they reduced leaders Otago's advantage to five points.