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Penultimate round fireworks predicted in club rugby

This week’s Swindale Shield teamlists and draw is HERE (use ‘select competitions’ menu to change competitions)

  • By Scott MacLean

Its another weekend of clutch matches with the penultimate rounds in the three main men’s grades, with the weekend starting off with tonight’s historic Women’s game at Westpac Stadium.

Its also the last weekend of the Tranzit Festival 1st XV matches at Porirua, and the final stage of 1st XV qualifying.

Premier Swindale Shield

Seven teams. Five Jubilee Cup places left.

That’s what faces the field in tomorrow’s matches, with something on the line for at least one of the teams involved in each of the seven games,

At the head of the table the outcomes for Hutt Old Boys Marist (39) vary from winning the Swindale tomorrow to having a direct contest for it next week. For the first to happen they’ll need to beat Oriental-Rongotai (30) and hope that Norths lose or whatever combination of results and bonus points gives them a six-point or greater margin, but should they suffer their first loss of the season they’ll be after the result from Evans Bay and could have a virtual final for the Shield next week. Ories aren’t out of contention but need to win tomorrow with a bonus point while denying HOBM anything while also hoping Norths go down, and then need similar outcomes next week as well. Perhaps of more immediate urgency will be to rebound from last weekend’s loss to Wainuiomata and qualify for the Jubilee Cup; something that isn’t yet certain either.

After being rested last week Sheridan Rangihuna – amongst others – returns to the Eagles side but Lise Soloa remains absent due to injury, while there is TBC on the left wing which may yet turn out to be Chase Tiatia. Ories have been forced into some changes in the pack where they’ll be missing the hard-running Luke Tau’alupe, with Trent Renata returning to fullback.

They’ll also play for the Bondy Memorial Cup, which honours the late Don Bond. Bond was a passionate Ories man and Life Member but sadly never saw his club lift the Jubilee Cup, passing away just weeks before their 2011 triumph. HOBM are the holders.

Of great interest to many will be the contest at Evans Bay between Marist St Pat’s (21) and Norths (34) with both chasing the win albeit for very different reasons. The home side need it simply to remain alive for the Jubilee Cup going into next week (barring an unexpected result or two elsewhere). Norths need a bonus point win to assure that they’ll be playing to retain the Swindale next week regardless of what happens at the Hutt Rec, and having endured their own period in the Hardham Cup perhaps their supporters will understand if that’s the position they consign MSP to tomorrow.

Unsurprisingly MSP bring back Valentine Meachen and Tietie Tuimauga after both came off the bench last weekend, with winger Faresa Tasele the only other starting change. Norths have retained the same starting pack that dominated that Rams last week with the returns of former MSP player Jayden McCarthy and physical winger Liki Siliga their only changes, while Jackson Garden-Bachop has been released by the Hurricanes and named on their bench.

At stake between the two tomorrow is the Maurice Standish Cup, inaugurated last year and won by Norths. Standish who was a Jubilee Cup winner as both a player and a coach with MSP, played for Titahi Bay, and later coached at Norths.

So, what of those other games. Across the road from Evans Bay at Kilbirnie Park where Poneke (26) host neighbours Wellington (11) for their Spud Lindsay Memorial Trophy. Ray Lindsay played for, and administrated and coached at Poneke from the 30’s until the late 50’s, whereupon being removed as the senior coach he moved to Wellington where he was involved until his death in 1973; the trophy is currently held by Poneke.

Poneke can only secure their Jubilee Cup place with a win and results elsewhere while a loss could potentially leave them with an enormous job to do next week at Petone. They’ll look to take care of their own business in front of their Old Timers’ Day crowd and have the forward quartet of Cole Stewart, Galu Taufale, Api McMillan-Parata (playing his blazer game), and Greg Foe together for the first time this season, with Pakai Turia also back in the starting side. The Axemen are headed back to the Hardham Cup but could drag Poneke and their opponents next week Wainuiomata with them. Their side tomorrow is broadly the same as last weeks though the backline is again reshuffled with the versatile pair of Te Aranga Hakiwai and Eremia Tapsell again shifting roles.

News will also be sought at and from Nairnville Park where Old Boys-University (25) take on Wainuiomata (25) where, as with Poneke, a bonus point win only guarantees safety if certain others lose. On the flip side though a loss could put them on the outside, and even though they have Hardham Cup-bound sides to play next week – OBU host Pare-Plim and Wainuiomata visit the Axemen – they could still come up short.

Wainuiomata will be looking to hold on to the Peter Dunford Cup the two play for. Dunford was a Wellington College old boy who moved to the valley in the early 50’s and had a prominent role in the early days of the Wainuiomata club. Remarkably, there’s only one change to either XV that started last week with John Monu coming in at centre for the visitors, who have Bevan Clark becoming the latest Wainuiomata centurion.

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Information will also be important at the Petone Rec, with Petone (25) taking on the already-eliminated Avalon Wolves (12). As with others, survival for the Villagers can’t be guaranteed leaving the possibility of a winner takes all clash with Poneke next weekend, but with every point vital they’ll be out to take the full five. For their part Avalon could seriously crimp their valley rivals’ ambitions with a win here, something they’ve done in recent years. Petone make just two changes with Viliami Fine returning on the wing, and Luke Flett given the start at hooker. Avalon play musical Waldrom’s with the #8 jersey – this week its Thomas – with a reshuffled backline having youngster Jordan King starting at first-five.

The fifth of the interclub trophies in play tomorrow, they’ll contest their Morgan Family Trophy which donated in 1987 by cousins John and Trevor Morgan on behalf of the family who have ties to both clubs and held by the Villagers.

Still on the outside looking in and occupying that eighth place are Tawa (22), who head up the road to Ngati Toa Domain and a meeting with Paremata-Plimmerton (4). Tawa’s supporters will expect nothing less than the full five points – which could elevate them back into the top seven – ahead of the visit to Upper Hutt next week and to try and achieve.  With so much to play for Tawa aren’t taking any chances and have named a strong line-up while the home team are largely unchanged and will be out to scupper their higher-flying opponents’ chances and get some traction ahead of their Hardham Cup campaign.

The final game of the round is out at Maoribank Park where the Upper Hutt Rams (15) need an unlikely series of results to remain in contention for another week, with the strong probability that even an expected bonus-point win over cellar-dwellers Johnsonville (1) won’t be enough. Daniel Schrijvers returns to the forwards to make his 50th start for the home team, who also had Premier debuts to hulking prop Luke Chisholm, wing Nevin Ruatara, and hooker Kaleb Sinclair if he gets on from the bench.

All seven Premier matches are at the normal 2.45pm kick-off time.

Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield

The feature clash of the day is the much-awaited one between the top-two, unbeaten duo Marist St Pat’s (39) and Norths (37) at Evans Bay. Only two points separate the pair – that margin coming from Norths draw with OBU earlier in the campaign – and whatever happens its almost certain that one of them will end up with the silverware. If MSP prevail tomorrow and rack up their 24th consecutive win in this competition that will be them, but the last team to beat them in the HLS was Norths and should they take the victory they’ll be in pole position with only lowly HOBM to play next week.

In the other matches Tawa (32) – the only other team with even a remote chance – will look to consolidate their position when facing bottom-side Pare-Plim at Ngati Toa, Petone host Avalon at the Petone Rec, Ories are across the river to take on HOBM, OBU host Wainuiomata at Nairnville, Poneke and Wellington clash at Kilbirnie, and Johnsonville head to Maoribank to face the Upper Hutt Rams.

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

Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

While there’s still two rounds to go after this weekend, its likely that the location of this trophy will be determined tonight when Oriental-Rongotai (30) and holders Norths (25) meet in tonight’s historic clash at Westpac Stadium. Both sides are unbeaten with Norths having had their bye already (Ories have theirs next week), though Norths have taken to the field in all their matches while its been much publicised that Ories have been defaulted to three times and played 13v13 in one of their others just to get some game time.

As named, both sides are fairly similar to their last meeting, last year’s championship final won 20-15 by Norths. The defending champions start nine players who started that match, while Ories have 10. Ories’ Black Ferns duo of Joanah Ngan-Woo and Ayesha Leti-l’iga will be their focal points as usual, while Norths mix of veterans and youth will see if the same stout defence that got them home last August will again tonight.

The match kicks off just after 5pm, and if you can’t make it to the Cake Tin its being broadcast live on Sky. Wellington’s leading female referee Monique Dalley has the whistle.

In tomorrow’s matches Poneke have already defaulted to Petone (21). Marist St Pats (10) and Hutt Old Boys Marist (12) will battle over their mid-table places when they meet at Kilbirnie, while Paremata-Plimmerton (6) will look to get into that fray when the welcome Wainuiomata to Ngati Toa Domain. Old Boys-University (12) have the bye.

All three matches tomorrow are at 11.30am.

Colts Paris Memorial and JRD Cup

OBU Green’s (24) hard-fought win over MSP last weekend left them with one hand on regaining the Division 1 Paris Memorial trophy and will be strong favourites to strengthen that grip when they host bottom-side the Upper Hutt Rams (5) in the Ian Galloway cage. MSP (21) will look to keep pace and hope for an upset elsewhere when they host HOBM (16) on the St Pats turf. Behind them there’s a real dogfight on make sure of staying in Division 1 for round two with two teams potentially dropping down; in that regard Pare-Plim’s (6) match with Tawa (7) at Ngati Toa is a must-win for each, while the same applies for Petone’s (9) clash with Norths (14) at the Petone Rec.

In Division 2 Oriental-Rongotai have already secured the JRD Cup, holding an unassailable 11-point lead over second-placed Poneke. Ories travel to Fraser Park to take on Avalon before having the bye next week ahead of a presumed promotion to Division 1. Poneke are at home against Wellington as they hunt the possible second promotion place, while OBU Black meet Wainuiomata at Ian Galloway. Johnsonville has the bye.

All Colts matches are 1pm starts.


First up in the College ranks is the last round of the Tranzit Festival, this week at Porirua Park. None of the Wellington schools can go unbeaten, but Scots and Silverstream can make it two wins from three when they face Gisborne and Napier in the 11.30am kick-offs respectively, while in the 1pm contests Wellington College and St Pat’s Town go looking for wins when up against Palmerston North and Hastings respectively.

Of significant interest are the matches that will determine the make-up of the rest of the Premiership this year, with the last four sides to be found and join the four Wellington schools above, plus Wairarapa and Rongotai who qualified last week. In the first of those Kapiti College will look to return when they host Upper Hutt College at 1pm, while Hutt International will aim to do likewise when Tawa visit in a repeat of the same game from a year ago. There will be at least one new face in the Premiership when Aotea hosts Taita, while St Bernard’s and Porirua face off in Lower Hutt to avoid dropping out for 2019. These last three matches are at 2.30pm.

The four sides that lose will join the Silverstream and St Pats Town 2nd XV’s in Premier 2, alongside the winners of two more matches. In those Onslow host the Rongotai 2nds, and Mana takes on Paraparaumu. There were two other matches scheduled, but the Wellington College 2nd XV have been forced to default to Wainuiomata (instead playing their traditional match against Napier BHS’ 2nds), while Naenae has done likewise to Hutt Valley HS.

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