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From the Couch 2010

Wellington Lions vs Tasman (1st August 2010) at Westpac Stadium. by D Willis

The Wellington Lions kicked off their 2010 ITM Cup season with a 20-11 win over the Tasman Makos on what was a wet and windy Wellington night.

The conditions were not suited for goal kicking so tries from Dane Coles and Jeremy Thrush before halftime helped the Wellington Lions to a 15-8 lead at halftime.

Wellington supporters will be watching the highly anticipated 19-year old winger, Julian Savea, after his debut produced a solid game which included a 40 metre try.

The Wellington Lions will play Counties-Manukau next week, on Sunday 8th August at 2.35pm. Look forward to seeing you all there.

Wellington Lions vs Counties Manukau (8th August) at Westpac Stadium by Sean Willis

The second week of the ITM Cup saw the Wellington Lions take on the boys from Counties-Manukau. The weather was an improvement from last week but unfortunately, the home crowd had to witness a fast paced Counties side defeat the Wellington Lions 31-25.

The game slipped away in the first half as Counties-Manukau went into the break leading 23-3. The Wellington Lions narrowed the gap in the second half but the damage was already done resulting in a narrow loss.

There were signs of skill from Wellington with a superb run-away try to Hosea Gear and a Bonus Point thanks to Charlie Ngatai’s last minute try to narrow the gap by 6.

The Lions will look to improve by next week when they travel to Dunedin to take on Otago. Kick-off is 7.35pm on Saturday night. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Otago (14th August) at Carrisbrook by Sean Willis

As the ITM Cup continues to kick on, the Wellington Lions proved that they can bounce back from a narrow defeat earlier in the week. The Lions defeated Otago 35-22 as they cut through the Otago defence with pace.

Although conceding an early try two minutes into the game, the Lions responded when Number 8, Faifili Levave, broke through the line into open space. The Lions had too many numbers in the Otago 22 which eventually saw Jeremy Thrush score from some smart catch and pass play.

The skill continued when rising star Julian Savea found himself scoring a 40 metre run-away try to take Wellington into Halftime with a 17-12 lead. Savea added another try to his rookie season as a tactical cross kick from first five, Fa'atonu Fili, landed in the arms of Savea as he dived into the corner for his second try of the match.

Throughout the game, the Lions attack was too fast for the Otago defence as Alby Mathewson cut through the line at speed to score the Bonus Point try. The win sees the Lions sixth on the table after three rounds of the ITM Cup.

It was another great week of the ITM Cup and that could only mean another great win for the Wellington Lions. Week 4 of the season saw the Lions hosting Waikato, as they went on to beat them 26-14.

Next week the Wellington Lions return to Westpac Stadium to take on a strong Waikato side. The game kicks off at 7.35pm on Saturday night so we hope to see you all there. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Waikato (August 21st) Westpac Stadium by Sean Willis

On a calm Wellington night, the Lions began the first half with their impressive back-line as they attacked the Waikato defence at speed allowing a 40 metre try to the young gun Julian Savea. A few minutes later, Daniel Ramsay crossed the line thanks to another line-break from Savea. This saw the Lions go into the halftime break leading 16-9.

The second half saw Waikato score their only try of the game as the Lions continued to put pressure on the Waikato defence. Dane Coles was able to capitalize on the pressure applied by scoring mid-way through the second half.

The Lions looked impressive once again and will hope to take this form into next week’s game as they host the Northland Taniwha’s and the ex home-town hero, David Howell. The game kicks off at 5.30pm on Saturday 28th of August. See you all there. GO THE LIONS.

Wellington Lions Vs Northland Taniwha's (August 28th) Westpac Stadium by Sean Willis

The conditions were suited for a fast-paced attacking game of rugby and that’s exactly what the Home crowd was treated to when the Wellington Lions took to the field against the Northland Taniwha’s. However, it was Northland who silenced the home crowd after several careless errors put the Lions under pressure early in the game.

The Taniwha’s were then rewarded with two tries, both set up by Rene Ranger. The Lions struggled to keep up with Northland until a brilliant individual effort by the Centre, Shaun Treeby, saw him cross the line and give Wellington some momentum. The momentum continued as the Lions closed the gap through returning All Black, Victor Vito, who scored the Lions second try of the first half.

Just when the Lions looked back in the game, Northland arrived with plenty of numbers to the ruck to force a turnover and a quick try to Dean Budd. Northland entered the halftime break leading 25-10 with a strong first half performance.

But the Lions were not finished! Wellington started the second half with the speed and skill the Taniwha’s had shown in the first half. Young Winger, Julian Savea, scored his fifth try of the season narrowing the deficit. Soon after, Wellington looked to be under pressure in their own 22 until a strong run from Hosea Gear allowed Vito to score his second try of the match.

The home crowd were left at the edge of their seat for 80 minutes until the Forwards secured the Bonus Point win with Prop, John Schwalger crossing the try-line.

The Wellington Lions travel up to Palmerston North to take on the Mighty Manawatu and their Bucket-Head supporters. The game kicks off at 2.35pm on Saturday. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Manawatu Turbo's (September 4th) Palmerston North By Sean Willis

The Wellington Lions travelled up North to take on the Manawatu Turbos in conditions that suited the fast-paced attack the Lions have shown all season. It was the Turbos who made the most of an opportunity to score first in the 2nd minute through former Hurricanes and Lions player, Shannon Paku.

The Lions then replied through a strong cut-out ball to Lions debutant, Tajhon Mailata, who found his way across the line for his first career try. Ten minutes later the Lions winger, Alipate Leiua, hit open space off a bit of luck from the kick, scoring under the posts giving the Lions the lead for the first time in the match. However, a penalty to Manawatu took the home team into the break leading 14-12.

Early into the second half, Lions flanker Scott Fugistaller was sin-binned for repeat offending which put extreme pressure on the Lions. The Turbos made the most of playing against 14 men, running in a converted try to the Centre, Hadleigh Parkes – who was a stand out for the Turbos.

The Lions returned to 15 men but Manawatu had numbers to the left, extending the lead to 26-12.

As we have seen all season, Julian Savea powered his way across the line for his sixth try of the season. The try gave the Lions a sniff of hope helping their confidence. Centre, Shaun Treeby then sparked an attack down the left wing, leading to Mailata’s second try of the match. This gave the Lions some hope but that was quickly extinguished as the flying Fijian, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, intercepted a pass to run away for a try; leaving the Lions heading to Auckland without a single point earnt.

We will be hoping our presence at Eden Park will help lift the spirit of the Wellington Lions as they take on Auckland at 6.35pm on Saturday the 11th. This will be our trip away and we look forward to a great weekend. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Auckland Blues (September 11th) Auckland by Sean Willis

The Wellington Lions hoped to get their ITM Cup back on track after last weeks loss to Manawatu, but a determined Auckland side had different plans. The weather was a factor on the night with cold, wet and windy conditions affecting both teams handling.

Auckland kicked off the scoring with a series of Pick & Goes deep in the Lions 22, leading to the first try by the Auckland lock, Liaki Moli. A few minutes after the try, the Lions played safe rugby and first-five, Lima Sopoaga, converted his first penalty of the night.

After fourteen phases, Auckland’s first five, Matt Berquist, crossed the line before halftime giving the home team the lead at the break, 15-6.

The rain continued to fall throughout the second half, eliminating any chance of running rugby the Wellington Lions have shown all season. To stay within contention of Auckland, Sopoaga converted three more penalties but it was not enough in reply to Auckland’s two tries. Although they will not return home with the four points, they return home with one Bonus-Point from finishing within seven points.

Hopefully the conditions will be better for the Wellington Lions and their home fans, as they take on the Hawkes Bay Magpies on Saturday the 18th at 5.30pm at Westpac Stadium. See you all there


Wellington Lioms Vs Hawks Bay (September 18th) Wellington by Sean Willis

The Wellington Lions looked to get their season back on track as they hosted a talented Hawkes Bay side. However, it was the visitors who started the scoring with a quick penalty conversion and a try to first five, Kahn Fotuali'I, along with the successful conversion.


The Lions quickly replied with a set play amongst the backs which was finished off by some fancy footwork by Hosea Gear before splitting the Magpies defence wide open. While the conversion was not successful, some individual brilliance from the right winger, Alipate Leiua, saw him rip through the narrowest of gaps before passing the ball to Tajhon Mailata to score under the posts.

The conversion was successful and the Wellington Lions hit the lead for the first time of the match. Right before halftime, Gear broke the line in similar fashion to Leiua and drew in enough defenders to allow the first five, Lima Sopaga, to score on the left hand side of the field from a well executed pass. The Lions entered the halftime break leading the Magpies 17-10.

While the second half was not filled with the same attack from both teams, the Wellington Lions showed that they could defend when put under pressure by Hawkes Bay. The solid defence only allowed a soft penalty in the front of the posts to narrow the gap to just four points. The Lions held on long enough to earn the 4 points.

The final score 17-13 to the Lions sees them fifth on the table with an important game next week against Canterbury. The tickets to the game are free so the Lions will face a full crowd as well as a tough opposition. The game kicks off on Saturday the 25th at 2.35pm. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Canterbury (September 18th) Christchurch

The Wellington Lions faced a tough Canterbury team that had just under 30,000 fans cheering their hearts out for the Red & Blacks. Unfortunately, the home crowd helped Canterbury claim a 37-30 win over the Lions.

Although Canterbury opened the scoring through their winger, Telusa Veainu, the Lions replied with a 60 metre intercept to Hosea Gear. After two penalties between both teams, Gear scored his second try of the match pushing the Lions into the halftime break leading 20-13.

After the break, Canterbury sent on their key weapon – Sonny Bill Williams. His presence on the field lifted Canterbury who were able to break the Lions defence through a strong run from the former Lion, Robbie Fruen. This resulted in a lucky try to halfback, Andy Ellis, which tied the scores at 20 all.

The Lions hit the lead again after a try off the scrum to the Number 8, Faifili Levave. However, Canterbury took the reigns of the game after a quick try to Sean Maitland and a powerful try to Sonny Bill Williams extended Canterbury’s lead to nine.

Alby Mathewson scored a bonus point try to give the Lions a chance at a win, but a penalty conversion to Colin Slade gave Canterbury the win.

The close match resulted in 2 Bonus Points going to the Lions as they return home to take on Bay of Plenty. The game kicks off at 7.35pm on Thursday night. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Bay of Plenty September 23rd) Westpac Stadium

The Wellington Lions hosted Bay of Plenty in conditions that resulted in a narrow 31-24 loss. The conditions meant running rugby was ruled out once again and the Lions struggled to keep ball in hand. The first half saw four penalties converted to Bay of Plenty with a try to the fullback, Ben Smith, with the Lions only converting three penalties to first-five, Lima Sopoaga. This took Bay of Plenty into the halftime break leading 19-12 but in the second half, the crowd were treated to a game full of action.

The Steamers extended their lead through a brilliant individual try to the Centre, Cory Aporo. The Lions were down 26-12 but replied through a try to the Hooker, Dane Coles, which was set up from a quick line break from Buxton Popoali'I as he carved his way through the Bay of Plenty defence. The gap was narrowed to two points after halfback, Alby Mathewson, picked up the ball off a strong Wellington scrum and scored down the right wing.

The home crowd were left on the edge of their seat until The Bay sealed the deal with a try to their winger, Lelia Masaga, with four minutes until fulltime.

The Lions gained a Bonus Point from the loss and will look to improve for next’s week’s game against North Harbour at 2.35pm on Sunday the 10th. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs North Harbour (Sept 10th ) Albany

The Wellington Lions strengthened their finals chances by defeating North Harbour 52-23 in Albany. The first half was a tight battle between the two sides but North Harbour scored the first try from an intercept to Ben Botica. Wellington replied with a try to the prop, John Schwalger.

At the scores locked up at 10 all, Harbour scored a try not long before Alby Mathewson scored one in reply. Penalties between both sides took the halftime score to 20 all but it in the second half, the Lions ran rampant.

The tries started with one to the flanker, Scott Fuglistaller, after a skillful catch and run from the winger, Alipate Leiua. The Captain, Jeremy Thrush, then got involved in the action to cross the line for five points of his own.

North Harbour’s defence was exposed once again when Leuia sprinted 60 metres to score his first try of the match. Five minutes later, the rookie Julian Savea crossed the line as we have seen all season. As the game looked dead and buried for the home team, The Lions further dented the Harbour spirit when Leiua scored his second try of the match.

The impressive win was just what Wellington needed as they travel home for their final home game of the season against Taranaki. The game kicks off at 7.35pm on Saturday. See you all there and GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Lions vs Taranake ( Sept 16th ) Westpac Stadium

The Wellington Lions gained a spot in the ITM Cup Semi-Finals by defeating Southland 27-14 on their home ground. The game was fast paced and both teams were determined to finish the round robin play on a high note. It was the home team that scored first through the fullback, Glen Horton. The Lions replied with a penalty conversion to Lima Sopoaga before the Centre, Tajhon Mailata, ran down the left wing to give the Lions the lead. The lead did not last long as the bounce of the ball went Southland’s way, resulting in a try to James Wilson. The try took Southland into the halftime break leading 14-10.

The second half was run by the Lions as Southland were held scoreless. The first try of the second half came to the winger, Alapati Leiua, as he caught an intercept to extend Wellington’s lead. Sopoaga converted his second penalty of the match before Ged Robinson sealed the deal by scoring a try against the post.

The win saw the Wellington Lions finish fourth on the table. They travel down to Christchurch to take on Canterbury at 7.35pm on Friday 29th in what will be the first Semi-Final of 2010. GO THE LIONS!

Wellington Vs Christchurch (semi Final) Ami Stadium Christchurch 7.35pm


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