Referee Keith Brown took exactly 19 seconds to whistle his first penalty and unfortunately for the Steamers, it was against them and just 22 metres out in front of their posts. Lima Sopoaga slotted the goal but the Steamers roared onto attack from the kickoff, and scored a slick try to winger Mafi Kefu, to get the good-sized Baypark crowd into the game.
Chris Noakes, starting his first game of the season after a nasty ankle injury sustained playing for the Highlanders, converted and then kicked a penalty to put the Steamers ahead 10-3 after six minutes.
The lively start continued, with the Lions scoring a classic set-piece try to veteran Ross Filipo, to tie the game up 10-10 after 10 minutes.
Wellington bravely ran the ball out in front of their posts and after a speculative pass hit the goal post pad, they roared down the field, with classic inter-passing between backs and forwards. Finally it was winger Alipate Leiua who finished off one of the tries of the season.
One mistake, and a brilliant counter, meant the Lions were in front and they went into halftime leading 23-16 against the disappointing Steamers.
Steamers coach Kevin Schuler wanted more urgency from his forwards in the second half but his team got off to a muddled start, struggling to get out of their own quarter into the wind.
Wellington won a rare tighthead in the Bay's 22 and profited from dithering defence to score a sharp try to second-five Shaun Treeby. Sopoaga converted and the Bay had a mountain to climb down 30-16.
A brilliant 40-metre break by Lelia Masaga sparked the Steamers into life and after 10 phases on attack, they won a penalty. From the lineout option, again the forwards piled into their work and the man who started it, Masaga, dived over for a brilliant finish.
Noakes converted and then landed a wide-angled penalty as the Steamers began to dominate territory. Sopoaga continued his perfect kicking night with a penalty to move the Lions ahead 33-26.
Wellington kicked another penalty to take out the match 36-26, much to the disappointment of a good crowd at Baypark Stadium of 6,900.