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Lions to play Auckland for Fred Lucas Cup on Sunday

Above Peter Umaga Jensen scored one of the fastest tries from the opening kick-off in NPC history last year against Auckland. Sunday’s clash between Wellington and Auckland promises to be a blockbuster and a big game for the Lions after losing their season opener to Waikato. 

The Wellington Lions are seeking a fast rebound from their disappointing heavy loss to Waikato when they take the field for their second round National Provincial Championship match this coming Sunday.

This will be easier said than done, as they play Auckland at Eden Park, a team that always goes well at home and, in contrast to the Lions, opened their season with a bang by beating Otago 38-6 in Dunedin.

The Fred Lucas Memorial Cup.

However, Lions fans can recall their win over Auckland at Eden Park last year, Wellington won their last encounter against Auckland on 22 September 2019, at Auckland, 34-15, after Auckland led at halftime 15-14.

Lions second five-eighth Peter Umaga-Jensen scored the first points of the match – a try after just 45 seconds – channelling the late great Auckland and All Blacks outside back Fred Lucas whose name bears the inter-provincial trophy they are playing for.

Lucas was a 1920s Auckland All Black and captained Auckland to victory over the British and Irish Lions in 1930 and was a post-war All Black selector.

Wellington v Auckland fast facts and information

Some more statistics and information below

  • In the National Provincial Championship (since 1976) the two teams have met 47 times. Wellington has won 16, Auckland won 31, with no draws.
  • Wellington has scored 963 points against Auckland in all NPC matches against Auckland, including exactly 109 tries, while Auckland has scored 1168 points against Wellington, including 138 tries.
  • At Auckland, they have played 25 times in the NPC. Wellington has won seven and Auckland 18 of these.
  • Wellington has only ever previously won two matches in a row at Auckland: in 1981 and 1983.
  • Wellington has lost its opening two matches on only two previous occasions: in 1984 and 2014.
  • Fred Lucas played 41 matches including seven Tests for the All Blacks between 1923-1930, was a North Island selector from 1939-46, All Black selector in 1945-46 and was a foundation member of the New Zealand Barbarians club.
  • Wellington and Auckland were the first pair of North Island unions to meet in a first-class match, on 8 September 1883.
  • Overall, they have met 179 times in total and Wellington have won 79, Auckland 97 and there have been three draws.
  • During their match at Potter’s Paddock in Epsom in 1894, hail storms were so severe that the players left the field to shelter in the grandstand. When conditions improved play was resumed and Wellington went on to win 13-0.
  • When Auckland beat Wellington in 1897 it was Wellington’s first defeat at home by another New Zealand  provincial team in 33 games since the WRFU’s formation in 1880.
  • In 1926 K.S (Sydney). Svenson scored a hat-trick of tries and kicked a penalty for all Wellington’s points in a 12-16 loss. Svenson’s name lives on now in the brothers currently playing for the Upper Hutt Rams and Hutt Old Boys Marist clubs.
  •  In 1933’s 27-9 win,  Wellington scored eight tries with four players scoring twice each. B.A. Killeen, J.L Griffiths, H.T. Lilburne and J.G Dellabarca each scored braces in this game.
  • In Wellington’s 23-6 Ranfurly Shield defence against Auckland in 1953, left wing Ron Jarden scored a try and kicked four conversions for 14 points (today worth 16 points).
  •  In 1955 Jarden enjoyed even richer pickings against Auckland: In the first match between the sides at Athletic Park on 17 September he scored two tries and kicked nine points for 15 points (today worth 19 points) in a 24-19 win. scored four tries and kicked 13 points for 25 points (today worth 33 points). Thus in two games in a week against Auckland, Jarden scored six tries and scored 40 points, which with today’s five-point try values (then three) he would have scored 52 points.
  • On 29 September 1956, Wellington defended the Ranfurly Shield against Auckland, winning 9-6.For the final time in his glittering career, Ron Jarden walked off Athletic Park as the star player, having scored a stunning 60-yard try in support of his friend and openside flanker Bill Clark. Jarden’s try (worth three points) and an earlier penalty by him were the match winning points in Wellington’s tense and tight win. Prior to Jarden’s heroics, little separated the two teams with Wellington ahead 6-3 at halftime and the game on a knife-edge.
  • In 1963 Wellington famously won the RS off Auckland (8-3) only to lose it seven days later to Taranaki – the shortest ever tenure. This was also the 100th game between the two unions. Then in 1974 Auckland beat Wellington in their second defence 18 days after Wellington had won it off South Canterbury.
  •  Graham Williams scored two tries in consecutive games against Auckland in 1969 and 1970, and Graham Wallis also bagged two braces in a row in the following two years, 1971 and 1972.
  • There have been just three instances of players scoring three or more tries in a match for Wellington against Auckland. These were: Svenson (1926) and M.J Hourigan (1952) with hat tricks and Jarden’s four tries in 1955.

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