The season is over for the Wellington Lions after they were beaten 38-17 in their Mitre 10 Cup premiership semi-final by Auckland at Eden Park on Saturday afternoon.
The play-off match could not have started better for the Lions after Wes Goosen scooted down the sideline in the opening five minutes to score in the corner.
However, things got a lot tougher as Auckland started to dominate the breakdown where the Lions suffered at the hands of the referee who penalised them repeatedly.
That gave Auckland a territorial advantage and they made it pay as they crossed three times in the opening half to take a 24-10 lead.
Lions head coach Chris Gibbes made several changes at halftime, bringing on the likes of Dane Coles and Du'Plessis Kirifi who made an immediate impact with his work around the field.
A sustained period of domination saw the Lions close the gap to just seven points as Teariki Ben-Nicholas, who also had a strong game, crossed following an attacking lineout.
While the door looked to be open for a Lions comeback the job was made a lot more dificult after impressive Auckland No 8 Akira Ioane crossed for the second of his two tries.
The deficit, combined with the heat of the late afternoon sun, saw the players struggle as they chased the match which was beyond them when Auckland scored the last of their five tries.
Still, the Lions tried to the end but will know they made too many mistakes and turned over too much ball to reach the premiership final.
Auckland 38 (Melani Nanai, Fa'atiga Lemalu, Akira Ioane 2, Marco Fepulea'i tries; Harry Plummer 5 cons, pen), Wellington 17 (Wes Goosen, Teariki Ben-Nicholas tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop pen, 2 cons). Ht: 24-10.