The Wellington Lions defeated the Bay of Plenty Steamers 37-35 in their opening round National Provincial Championship fixture at Wellington on Sunday 7 August. Some of the facts and figures from the game below by Peter Marriott.
Round 1 v Bay of Plenty: Won 37-35
Wellington started the 47th year of National Provincial Championship (NPC) rugby with a win: the 32nd time they have done so first time up. They have lost on 14 occasions and drawn once.
Wellington’s overall record in the NPC is: played 476, won 296 (62.2%), lost 168 and drawn 12.
Their record against Bay of Plenty is: played 36, won 28 (77.8%), lost six and drawn two.
In 19 home matches Wellington has beaten Bay of Plenty on 16 occasions including the last five times in succession. There has been one drawn match and Bay of Plenty has won twice, but not since their 31-24 victory in September 2010.
Wellington lost last year’s match 32-33 at Rotorua but have won nine of their last 10 encounters against Bay of Plenty.
Wellington has now conceded 35 points in a NPC match on five occasions. This is the first time they have won.
Fullback Ruben Love gets a pass away. PHOTO: Caroline Lewis.
There were three players listed in the 23 to make their debut for Wellington but only two actually made an appearance. Bradley Crichton, who was named in the reserves, did not take the field.
Julian Savea scored two tries to take his tally for Wellington to 21, in 48 appearances. Amazingly it is only the second occasion he has scored two tries in a match for Wellington. They were his second and third tries against Bay of Plenty. His first was actually the final try in Wellington’s last match of 2017: the Final which they won 59-45 in extra time and which promoted them back into the Premiership Division for 2018.
Savea celebrated his 32nd birthday on the day of this current match.
Riley Higgins also scored two tries, on debut. He is the first to do so for Wellington since Tajhon Mailata touched down twice in his first game, against Manawatu at Palmerston North, on 4 September 2010.
The other debutant was Siale Lauaki, who came off the bench.
Peter Lakai played his first NPC match having made his only previous appearance for Wellington in their non-championship encounter against Southland last year.
The other two try scorers were Pepesana Patafilo (his 10th) and James Blackwell (his eighth). Both of them had not previously scored a try against Bay of Plenty.
Jackson Garden-Bachop kicked seven points to take his tally in all matches against Bay of Plenty to 51 points.
TJ Perenara played his first match for Wellington since appearing against Auckland at Auckland in 2020. Perenara has played just 20 matches for Wellington since making his debut against Southland at Invercargill in October 2010.
Naitoa Ah Kuoi, who scored Bay of Plenty’s first try, played 20 matches for Wellington in 2019 and 2020.
Joey Walton (his first) and Justin Sangster (his second) both scored their first try against Wellington.
Emoni Narawa scored his 18th try for Bay of Plenty and his third against Wellington. His previous two were both scored at Rotorua: in 2019 and 2021.
Kaleb Trask’s 15 points were his first to be scored against Wellington.