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Lions break their NPC successive victory record – but focussed on the next game

They say records are made to be broken.

Well, this one may have taken 37 years, but the 2022/23 Wellington Lions have fashionably written themselves into the record books, passing their previous NPC successive victory record (18) last Sunday when they overcame North Harbour 26-6 at Porirua Park.

The win against North Harbour took the Lions to 19 on the trot; the winning streak dating back to last season, with their last NPC loss coming against Northland at Porirua Park last August.

They took over the 1986/87 Wellington side who held the record for close to four decades. 

The victory also locked in the Lions spot at the top of the 2023 Bunnings Warehouse NPC table going into their final match of the season against Hawke’s Bay on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions have had an impressive season, thus far conceding the fewest tries in the competition (19) and the least number of points (128). On top of that, in their nine matches played, the Lions have only been behind on the scoreboard for a total of 16 minutes.

A victory against Hawke’s Bay on Saturday, which doubles as a Ranfurly Shield challenge, will equal Wellington’s record of 10 consecutive wins in the same season. Only ever achieved in 1986 when they won all their 10 matches, and in 2022 where the Lions won their last 10 matches. 

Despite the amazing feat and remarkable performances, Lions Head coach Tamati Ellison said the side are keeping their feet grounded and are focussed on their next match with the season not over yet.

“The reason why we’ve got where we are this season is because we’ve always been focused on the next game. Each week we look back and sometimes we forget who we’ve played because we’re so focused on the next match, and that has played a big part on the season we’re having.

“When they asked Tom Brady (renowned NFL quarterback) which ring was his favourite [championship] ring, he said ‘the next one’.

“We’re not counting wins here.”

Lions captain Du’Plessis Kirifi said he was proud of the side’s turnaround in form after some previous seasons going without playing finals rugby, but echoed Tamati’s thoughts, saying, “we’re not done yet”.

“Extremely proud of this group to be playing so well. It wasn’t that long ago when we weren’t even playing quarter finals. We knew we were better than that, and we knew we had the players, so to grow from that and achieve the success we’ve had is amazing. It’s really special to have achieved such a record, but the feeling within the team is that we’re not done yet and we’re focussed on the next game and hopefully we can win the national title again.”

The Lions play their last match of the regular season against Hawke’s Bay on Saturday, September 30 at Sky Stadium. Kick-off is at 2.05pm.


Photo credit: Paddy Martin