A poor first half has cost the Wellington Lions an opportunity to nail down a home semifinal in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership after a 42-34 loss to North Harbour in Albany on Friday night.
Harbour, who were desperate to stay in play-off contention, took just about every chance they created in the first half to score as they exploited limited space to their advantage.
They were helped by some poor defence from the Lions who slipped off too many tackles and were made to pay for it on numerous occasions.
Harbour's key players were certainly influential while the Lions were guilty of making mistakes they had generally not made over the majority of the season.
Behind 32-8 at the break, Wellington showed plenty of character to stay in the contest and even looked like they might finish over the top of Harbour but for late mistakes.
The loss means the Lions might have to beat Waikato in their last round robin match against Waikato at Westpac Stadium next Saturday night to host a semifinal, depending on other results this weekend.
North Harbour 42 (Karl Tu'inukuafe, Shaun Stevenson, Matt Duffie 2, Harrison Groundwater, Bryn Hall tries; Matt McGahan 3 con, pen, Stevenson pen) Wellington 34 (James Blackwell, Vince Aso, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Sitiveni Paongo, Wes Goosen tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con, pen).