The Wellington province’s 11th Ranfurly Shield reign started at 8.45pm on Saturday night Napier Standard Time.
The Wellington Lions held on to beat the Hawke’s Bay Magpies 19-12 in a typical last-gasp thriller between these sides for the Ranfurly Shield.
But unlike 1967, there were no death-knock heroics for the Hawke’s Bay defenders.
Putting aside a late penalty from dead in front that went awry by Wellington flyhalf Aidan Morgan that would have put Wellington up by 10 points, it was Wellington’s red-minutes defence of the famed Magpies lineout drive and the hearty celebration on fulltime that reflected extra spirit evident in the Wellington team throughout this match.
It was 9-9 at halftime, with former HOBM prop Joe Apikotoa in the sin-bin for the home team.
Wellington’s game-winning try was scored early in the second half when tyro No. 8 Peter Lakai ran hard at the advantage and offloaded one-handed and backhand to halfback TJ Perenara who scored. Morgan’s conversion made it 16-9.
Wellington’s defence was impressive in this match, players such as Perenara, hooker Asafo Aumua and Lakai and fast-maturing centre Billy Proctor leading the way.
Wellington forced the Magpies on to the back foot and behind their own advantage line. They starved the Magpies of possession and territory – and lineout drive opportunities until the very end.
This was Wellington’s 11th Ranfurly Shield win in their 100th Ranfurly Shield match.
Their record in these games now stands at 51 wins, 43 losses and six draws.
This was their first win in six attempts at Napier, burying ghosts of the 58-8 defeat in 1926.
Wellington last won the Shield on 20 September 2008, beating Auckland 27-0 that night at Eden Park.
Hawke’s Bay’s tenure was stopped dead in its tracks at 14 defences. Overall, they have 76 wins in 112 Shield matches.
Wellington’s first defence is next Saturday against defending NPC champions Waikato, in a replay of their 1981 encounter, won by Wellington 22-4.
Wellington v Hawke’s Bay Ranfurly Shield matches:
- 23 August 1905: Wellington defends 11-3 at Wellington
- 28 July 1920: Wellington defends 20-5 at Wellington
- 9 August 1922: Hawke’s Bay wins 19-9 at Wellington
- 28 July 1923: Hawke’s Bay defends 10-6 at Napier
- 5 September 1925: Hawke’s Bay defends 20-11 at Wellington
- 14 August 1926: Hawke’s Bay defends 58-8 at Napier
- 30 September 1967: Hawke’s Bay defends 12-12 at Napier
- 30 August 1969: Hawke’s Bay defends 14-6 at Napier
- 21 August 1982: Wellington defends 13-12 at Wellington
- 1 October 2014: Hawke’s Bay defends 36-14 at Napier
- 8 November 2020: Hawke’s Bay defends 34-18 at Napier
- 17 September 2022: Wellington wins 19-12