Above: Both Poneke and MSP will want strong performances tomorrow, against last year’s Hardham Cup sides Paremata-Plimmerton and Johnsonville respectively. Poneke beat MSP 25-21 last week. PHOTO: Hamish Wareham.
This week’s teamlists and draw HERE
With the first weekend in the books the competition settles into the weekly routine. Tomorrow’s second round already looms as an important one for some teams, while others look to get a jump on the field. Some teams will also be awaiting on availability of players involved in this afternoon’s Hurricanes Hunters match against Japan ‘A’ at Porirua Park, and all will be keeping an eye on the weather with the possibility of some showers which combined with the rain earlier in the week might just have taken some of the sting out of a couple of the grounds.
Premier Swindale Shield
Speaking of the grounds, it’s by reasons of their availability as much as it is a quirk of the draw that the seven teams that were at home last week are again tomorrow.
The feature clash of the day is at Porirua Park, where Norths host Old Boys-University in the rematch of the Jubilee Cup final. Norths may have won this clash last year, and the following one in the Jubilee round-robin, but they’ll be looking for a significant measure of revenge after losing the last match of the trilogy at the Petone Rec. Last year’s match in the penultimate round was an absolute belter with thirteen tries being scored – including a first-half hat-trick by Esi Komaisavai – with Norths prevailing 50-45, a result that saw them put one hand firmly on the Swindale Shield.
Norths side have a few changes from that that comfortably beat Johnsonville; the versatile Bruce Kauika-Petersen moves to hooker, with his place on the openside taken by veteran and long-time Ram Josh Hunt who has returned to Norths. In the backs Komaisavai starts at 10, Jayden McCarthy makes his starting debut for the club at centre, and Te Kahui Bishop comes onto the left wing. The Goats are forced into a number of changes with Te Ariki Ben-Nicholas and Caleb Delany amongst those involved with the Hunters, and Tai Neli and Sam Reid amongst those who picked up knocks in the win over the Rams. For them in come Paterson Carter, Wirangi Parata, Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo, and Jared Verney with Joe Hill switching over to the wing. Richard Gordon, who refereed both that Swindale game last year and the Jubilee Cup final, is in charge again tomorrow.
Last year’s result saw Norths claim the Ken Douglas Trophy the two sides now play for, named for the long-time trade unionist and Porirua City councillor and who’s rugby resume includes playing for Wellington College Old Boys and being instrumental in the merger of Porirua and Titahi Bay that created Norths. Also at stake is the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy, which Norths claimed from OBU in their second meeting last season.
The only other matchup between sides that won last weekend is at Fraser Park between the home Avalon Wolves and visitors Oriental-Rongotai. With four of their first five games at home at the Sportsville Avalon will be looking to make that count, so another win here will add to that. They will however be without neither Waldrom brother, so Sefo Aumua shifts to No.8. Outside of him Thomas Kiwara starts in midfield in place of Chris Aumua, with Luese Moemai coming onto the wing and Site Timu moving to full back.
Ories will be wanting to repeat last years 26-20 achieved at home at Polo, but to also continue the momentum from last weekend’s second half against Pare-Plim. Captain Tuakana Metuarau shifts to openside with Ola Va’ai returning, with halves pairing Josh Crichton and former Scots College standout Malo Manuao make their run on debuts. Trent Renata is pushed up into centre, with Tuga Mativa making his first appearance for the year on the wing.
Over in Wainuiomata there’s the first of the matches that have previously been played on the annual Derby Day with Petone making their way to William Jones Park. The Villagers will be buoyed by their smash-and-grab win last weekend against Tawa where they made the Lyndhurst side pay for some sloppy errors and will be looking to exorcise some of last year’s demons here, after they conceded a late try for a 24-all draw with the lost competition points amongst those that cost them a Jubilee place. Wainuiomata have had the wood on their more famous neighbours in recent years and will be looking to continue that, and their side has an interesting mix; seven of the starting XV have more than 50 games for the club (plus three more on the bench) including centurions Teru Time, skipper Greg Leolofi, and Isaiah Mamea, while the other eight total 41 between them with debuts for hooker Jordan Gush and centre Aki Makita who adds to their Japanese contingent. Petone are missing several players including Mateaki Kafatolu and Peter Umaga-Jensen (on Hunters duty), Tupou Sopoaga, Piri Paraone, and Jarrod Adams meaning opportunities for others who will need to step up.
The two sides will contest their Darren Larsen Cup, the second of the inter-club prizes being played for tomorrow and donated by the long-time coaching identity. With last years match being drawn it’s held by Wainuiomata after their 28-17 win in 2017. Wainuiomata also won their Hardham Cup clash 29-15 on this ground, before Petone took the Hardham Cup final between them 27-26 on Finals Day.
Hutt Old Boys Marist will also be after a two-from-two start when they make the trip to face Tawa at Lyndhurst Park. The Eagles looked in good early season form against Wainuiomata, while Tawa were punished severely for their mistakes by Petone and will need to be much better this time out. They’ll also need to reverse the recent results between the two having lost 30-28 in this match last year at the Hutt Rec, and then 30-15 in the return Jubilee encounter here at Lyndhurst.
The home side make a swag of changes with both Coburn brothers, Hemi Fermanis and Peniasi Tokakece returning to the pack and Tom Maiava installed at fullback. Sam Clark makes his starting debut at 10 with halfback left as TBC, presumably awaiting the availability of captain Kemara Hauiti-Parapara from today’s Hurricanes Hunters game. Should he play he’ll match up against Lions teammate Sheridan Rangihuna with HOBM largely unchanged from last weeks starting XV.
Two sides that had contrasting days out meet at Ngati Toa Domain, with Poneke making the journey out to face Paremata-Plimmerton. Poneke put in an impressive display to beat MSP in the Battle of Kilbirnie and will be favourites here, but only need to look back to last season when a fired-up Pare-Plim knocked them over 25-11 at this same venue. Last weekend’s 0-57 loss certainly didn’t reflect the game for Pare-Plim, who held Ories in check for most of the first-half before the floodgates opened in the second and will take that as solace for a side with nearly a dozen new faces. Junior Davey and OBU centurion Stu Simonsen start in the front row with Luke Omeri moving from midfield to openside for the home team, while Poneke have rotated their squad with six changes to the starting side, and neither Greg Foe nor Pakai Turia named at all. Unusually though for this clash in recent years there’s only one McMillan-Parata brother named, and that Apirana on the Poneke side.
The final two matches are both between sides looking to notch their first wins after going down on Saturday. One of those is at Evans Bay, where Marist St Pats will be aiming to kickstart their season into life after a lacklustre opening 60 minutes against neighbours Poneke. Perhaps there’s no better opportunity than against tomorrow’s opposition Johnsonville, with the Hawks having conceded 76 points last weekend – albeit against Norths – and haven’t won in the Swindale since beating Avalon in round 10 in 2017. Last year however they put up a spirited fight at Helston in a 31-20 defeat.
There are a couple of enforced changes for MSP, with Billy Proctor and Tietie Tuimauga with the Hunters and their places are taken by Willie Schutz and Jacob Dunn, while another sees Josh Naa at No8 in place of the suspended James Tuia. 2018 NZ Schools and Napier Boys High captain Tyrone Thompson makes his Premier debut at hooker, and other changes have Grayson Whitman at first-five and Kerrod Foase at fullback. For their part Johnsonville are almost unchanged, with the only change in personnel seeing Levi Grace return at first-five for Stephen Nelson.
Out at the head of the valley the Upper Hutt Rams welcome Wellington to Maoribank Park with both sides looking to avoid falling into an early 0-2 hole. The Rams weren’t allowed to fire by OBU after a promising start, so their first order of business will be to address that. They’ve made several changes with only Nev Apineru, Josh Brown, and Sam Wasley remaining from last weekend’s starting pack and Nua Fono-Hunt getting the start at first-five. The Axemen will need to avoid repeating last weekend’s slow start, though by contrast they’ve named an unchanged starting pack, with Ollie Marshall starting at #10 and Henry Hocking coming into the side at fullback.
The pair did produce a pair of cracking games last year, with the Axemen taking a death-knock win 49-47 win a Thursday night points-fest in the last round of last years Swindale with the Rams returning serve 29-22 in the Hardham Cup clash.
All seven matches are underway at the usual time of 2.45pm
Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield
The second round of the matches in the second-tier has six of last weekend’s winners back at home, all looking to get a jump on as many teams as possible at this early stage.
The only match between first-up winners is at Fraser Park where Avalon host Oriental-Rongotai with the Magpies the only team to win away in round one. Norths and OBU clash in the early game at the JCS, Tawa do likewise with HOBM at Lyndhurst, and MSP
welcome Johnsonville to Evans Bay, Petone head over the hill to face Wainuiomata at William Jones, and the Upper Hutt Rams take on Wellington at Maoribank with all six matches at 1pm.
The final match will – barring a draw – see either Paremata-Plimmerton or Poneke notch their first win of the year. The pair are playing at Aotea College at 12.40pm to allow another match (see below) to fulfil the curtainraiser role at Ngati Toa Domain.
Elsewhere there’s a host of games as teams in other grades and at College level continue their preparations for their seasons, the first of which are the Women’s and Colts next weekend. Some notables are a “Game of Three Halves” between the Norths, OBU, and Upper Hutt Rams Colts squads at Porirua Park, and Petone and MSP meet at North Park (both 11am starts), while Petone’s and MSP’s women are after the latter at 12.30pm.
At College level Wellington College host Hastings Boys’ High in their annual preseason exchange with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd XVs at Ian Galloway Park and the U15s at the College turf from 9am, while St Pats Town play King’s Christian College from Australia’s Gold Coast at Helston Park at 1pm. Sunday sees Scots College take on an American side at Evans Bay from 11am.
There is however, one preseason game tomorrow with more meaning than most with the Paremata-Plimmerton and Wellington Colts sides coming together to play their Daniel Baldwin Memorial Trophy match, in honour of the young Axemen player who tragically passed away after a competition game between the two sides two years ago. That will be played on Ngati Toa Domain’s #1 ground, kicking off at 1pm.[table “11” not found /]