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Pivotal matches in club rugby this weekend


Swindale Shield teams for tomorrow HERE 

It’s full noise around the province as the lower grades resume after a week off, while at the Premier end there’s several pivotal matches that will go a long way towards sorting out the race not just for the Swindale Shield, but behind that for the Jubilee Cup places as well.


Premier Swindale Shield

The McBain Shield

Wellington’s oldest interclub trophy gets put at stake tomorrow when table-leading Hutt Old Boys Marist (24 points) clash with their fierce rivals Petone (14) in the 85th playing of the famous McBain Shield. Donated in 1934 by Hec McBain in memory of his father Alexander (the first Life Member of the Hutt FC), it’s been fought hard over the years and in recent times this match has produced some pulsating clashes and last-gasp wins, including last year when HOBM’s Anthony Utanga crossed to give his side a 30-27 victory.

As well as the silverware there’s plenty at stake for both sides. The Eagles will be looking to keep their noses in front in the Swindale race, while the Villagers will be after a result that keeps them inside those top seven places. HOBM coach Kent Harris has the relative luxury of being able to being able to name an unchanged backline, while up front Tasi Fidow returns to his normal place at blindside with Jack McCormack pushing into lock and Saia Fonoti and Freddie Sunia handed starts in the front row. For Petone Piri Paraone returns from the Hunters to start in his 50th match albeit at fullback with Carne Green retaining the #10 jersey, but are without Pasi Uluilakepa (NZ U20s), Mateaki Kafatolu, and Tupou Sopoaga with Jack Coles and Junior Foaitua taking their places.

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But the McBain isn’t alone as the biggest game on the slate tomorrow. The two teams that sit immediately behind HOBM on the standings in second and third – Norths (22) and Oriental-Rongotai (21) – meet at Porirua Park. Both are looking to at worst stay in touch with the Eagles, or should they lose leapfrog them into pole position on the table.

The battle up front between the Norths and Ories packs promises to be a highlight of their clash at the JCS.

Both sides are able to bring some big guns out as well, with Norths able to name Losi Filipo who’ll start on the wing, and Ories having Alex Fidow for a rare outing in Magpies colours. The seasons leading tryscorers will also be looking to add to their tallies with Norths’ Luca Rees (up against the side he played for last season) and Ories Malachai Unasa, and expect plenty of hard hits upfront, especially in the respective loose trios.

A third blockbuster is at Nairnville Park, but you’d have gotten good odds at the TAB at the start of the season that the meeting between Old Boys-University (11) and Marist St Pats (10) would come with both sides on the outside of the Jubilee Cup places, and the potential is that whoever loses this might find it difficult to climb back in in the remaining weeks, so this has must-win written all over it.

The home Goats are reinforced by the return of three players who were away on Hunters duty last weekend with Teariki Ben Nicholas, Shamus Hurley-Langton, and Caleb Delany all straight back into the starting side, though Jonathan Fuimaono drops back to the bench. MSP are likewise back to something approaching full strength with Billy and James Proctor, Tietie Tuimauga, and James Tuiatua returning to their first XV.

In between these two games there’s another not to be overlooked as Tawa (11), who sit seventh only by points-difference, welcome fifth-placed Wainuiomata (15) to Lyndhurst Park with both looking to return to the winner’s circle after defeats last week. Its perhaps more pressing for Tawa who finish with three straight away games and need to put on a good performance on their Old Timers Day, but the visitors also have their eyes on getting back to the Jubilee Cup and a win here would go a long way towards that.

Tawa get back Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Pepesana Patafilo, and Sitiveni Paongo with the latter starting at hooker, with their only other changes to the side that started last week against Norths being Luke Cummings moving to first-five, and Tane Heremaia making his debut on the right wing. Wainuiomata have a host of changes but are able to include Peter Umaga-Jensen in the midfield with his former Scots College teammate TJ Va’a once again lining up at halfback. There’s also the interesting inclusion of erstwhile midfielder Marvin Karawana lining up on the blindside flank

Another side looking to entrench their place in the top seven are Poneke (20) who are back at Kilbirnie to host Avalon (11), with the Wolves looking to make a statement about their own credentials for a Jubilee Cup place and both sides coming off victories last Saturday. The Wolves might fancy their chances, with Poneke again without the honeymooning Greg Foe and also Pakai Turia this week, and featuring an all-changed front row along with the return of Cole Stewart to their starting line-up. Avalon have just four changes with usual captain Daniel Smith back, and Jordan Aquila, Site Timu, and Poata Tuisamoa returning to the backline.

It’s also Old Timers Day at the Upper Hutt Rams (9), who despite sitting in 11th will be buoyed by having gotten broken the MSP-hoodoo last week and will need to continue those results to make the Jubilee Cup. The visitors to Maoribank Park are Paremata-Plimmerton (4), who despite looking bound for the Hardham Cup have made things difficult for opponents for long patches this year and will be targeting this as one they can nab. The Rams make four personnel changes from last Saturday with Eli Hunt, Jack Wright, Nua Fono-Hunt, and Jayden Treviranus back in, while Pare-Plim have reshuffled the deck with several changes including Justin Wilson returning to fullback and veteran openside Shane Hedges back from injury.

Finally, two of the bottom three meet at Hataitai Park with Wellington (5) hosting Johnsonville (1) with both sides looking for a morale-boosting win. The Axemen should start as favourites and get halfback Issac Bracewell back from the Hunters, while Johnsonville’s team wasn’t in at the time of writing.

As well as the McBain there are four other interclub trophies at stake tomorrow

  • Norths and Ories will play for their To’omaga Alex Iona Memorial Cup. Alex played for Ories after arriving in Wellington from Samoa before moving north and continuing his playing career with Norths forerunner club Porirua. First played for in 2011 it is held by Norths after their 32-15 win in the corresponding match last year, though Ories won their last meeting in the Jubilee Cup 37-33 at Porirua Park. If they repeat that tomorrow they’ll also take the Bill Brien Challenge Cup with them.
  • OBU and MSP have their Jack Lamason Cup up for grabs. Lamason was a dual-sport star of the 1930’s, playing his club rugby for Wellington College Old Boys, representing Wellington in both rugby and cricket, and good enough in the latter sport to also tour England with the national side in 1937. Originally contested by WCOB and St Patrick’s OB, it’s now contested by the descendent clubs and held by OBU winning 32-17 last year, while they also took the Jubilee Cup return by 32-26.
  • Tawa and Wainuiomata will contest their Chris Stirling Cup. Stirling played over 200 games for Tawa before embarking on a long coaching career that saw him serve roles at both clubs, then onto the Hurricanes and his current role as Director of Rugby at English Championship side Yorkshire Carnegie. Presented by Wainuiomata in 2009, Tawa have held this for the past three years including their 43-22 win last year
  • Lastly Wellington and Johnsonville play for their Mick Kenny Memorial Cup. Kenny was a Hawk before he saw service in World War II and an Axeman after it with the trophy donated after his passing in 2001. He was also instrumental in the WRFU taking over and putting into play the Harper Lock Shield, a services trophy he had played for while stationed in Egypt. Wellington are the holders after winning 23-5 on Opening Day last year.

All seven matches kick-off at 2.45pm

Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield

Despite the ranks of the unbeatens being thinned out last week, the race at the top of the Harper Lock Shield remains tight. MSP (24) head to Nairnville to face OBU (14) looking for their 21st consecutive win in this competition, while behind them Norths (22) and Tawa (22) host Ories (17) and Wainuiomata (13) respectively. The Upper Hutt Rams (21) will look to rebound when visited by winless Pare-Plim (0), Poneke (16) face Avalon (12) in a mid-table battle, Wellington (1) and Johnsonville (5) will look to get away from the bottom when they meet, and HOBM (5) and Petone (12) will perform curtainraiser duties at the Hutt Rec.

All seven matches are at the normal time of 1pm.

Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

All things going well, all four matches should take place tomorrow with a clutch of local derbies. Defending champions Norths welcome their neighbours Paremata-Plimmerton across the bridge to Porirua Park for the latest defence of the Challenge Trophy with Helen Collins to play her 150th match, Old Boys-University and Marist St Pats clash at Prince of Wales Park, and Hutt Old Boys Marist and Petone meet in the first of the McBain-related matches at the Hutt Rec. The fourth match has Oriental-Rongotai making the journey across to William Jones Park to take on Wainuiomata.

All four matches kick-off at 11.30am, with Poneke having this week’s bye.

Colts Paris Memorial and JRD Cup

After a week off the age-grade competition has already returned with Paremata-Plimmerton beating the Upper Hutt Rams 35-17 yesterday afternoon in a Division 1 clash. In tomorrow’s remaining matches both unbeaten leaders are on the road; MSP head to Porirua Park to take on Norths, while OBU Green head to Redwood Park to face Tawa. The third match is the ‘future’ McBain clash between HOBM and Petone at the Hutt Rec.

Division 2 starts tonight with Poneke and Avalon taking to the Te Whaea artificial at 7.30pm while tomorrow Wellington and Johnsonville are on Kilbirnie #3 clash and through the cutting into Miramar Ories and OBU Black meet at the Polo Ground. Wainuiomata has the bye.

All Saturday Colts matches get underway at 1pm.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

Also returning are the lightweights, with their competition having been rationalised to just 10 teams with the OBU Spartans comeback proving short-lived. Most matches are at 1pm this week with early leaders HOBM heading up the road to Trentham to face the Upper Hutt Rams while defending champions Avalon head to the city to take on Wellington at Te Whaea. Paraparaumu head down SH1 to meet Johnsonville at Helston, and MSP welcome Eastbourne to the St Pats artificial. The sole 2.45pm game is at the Ian Galloway cage between winless pair Wests and the OBU Bunnies.

Other grades

The First and Reserve grades start competition play this weekend after grading matches and having last weekend off. The split has 8 teams in the First Grade, seven in Reserve Division 1, and eight in Reserve Division 2. In the First Grade Thompson Memorial the matches (all at 2.45pm) defending champions HOBM will look to keep their unbeaten run going when taking on Petone in the alternative McBain clash, perennial contenders OBU head to Porirua to face returnees Norths, MSP welcome Avalon to the St Pats turf, and last year’s beaten finalists Stokes Valley head to face another side returning to this grade in Wainuiomata.

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