- By Scott MacLean
After a week when the local club game made headlines for reasons off the field than on it, attention swaps back to the matches themselves for this weekend starting with the second rounds of the Jubilee and Hardham Cups.
On the celebrations front its Old Timers’ Day at Western Suburbs where their current senior side – the Under 85s – host the defending grade champions Upper Hutt Rams in the Cage in the main game of the day there.
Premier Jubilee Cup
The focal point of those headlines has been on Hutt Old Boys Marist, who after the highs of winning the Swindale Shield have had to endure a tumultuous few days with the fall-out of their celebrations. They’ll be looking to let their performances on the field do the talking, starting tomorrow when they line-up against Tawa for their first match in the Jubilee Cup part of the season. Tawa will believe that the can put the distractions in the Eagles camp to their own use and have a great sniff of inflicting a first loss of the season on HOBM.
There are some names obviously missing from the HOBM 22, but also some notable returns. Joe ‘Apikatoa, Ben Power, David Filipo, and Fereti Soloa all return plus Brett Manaia from the bench, Nick Risdon steps into the halfback spot, and after his enforced 15-month layoff Brandyn Laursen will make his return to rugby from the bench.
Tawa have just one change to their starting side with youngster Caleb Cavubati restored to the right wing, and that consistent selection extends to the bench where the six named players also started their last week.
When these two met back in round two of the Swindale Shield HOBM prevailed 25-24 at Lyndhurst, which was the only time the Eagles were denied a four-try bonus point.
On the other side of the eastern Hutt hills the other two sides
that won last week face each other, and for the first time this year when Norths make the journey to William Jones Park and a meeting with Wainuiomata. A win tomorrow will be a boon for both sides and leave them well-placed to contend the knockout part of the season and particularly with their byes coming in a couple of weeks.
As is often the case it’s a changed home team; Ben Tupuola comes back at No. 8, Marvin Karawana returns to the backline after his recent stint in the loose forwards, TJ Va’a is back at halfback, and John Monu shifts into 10 replacing Japanese playmaker Toshiki Hamagishi who’s stint in New Zealand has come to an end. Norths retain the same forward pack that started last week with youngster Kienan Higgins returning in midfield and Connor Garden-Bachop making his Premier debut on the right wing, lining up outside his older brother.
The third match of the round is one between two of Wellington’s oldest clubs – Poneke and Petone – at Kilbirnie Park. With both having lost last weekend, this shapes as almost a must-win for each otherwise they face an early 0-2 hole to dig themselves out of, and mindful that they only met two weeks ago in the last round of the Swindale where Petone’s 23-17 win was enough to see both through.
The home side are boosted by the returns of their top points and try scorers in Pakai Turia and Nick Robertson, but equally their first-choice propping duo of veterans Hennie Tui and Soti Faamausili are also back. Jimmy-Lee Hongara starts at halfback with the well-performed Toshi Takahashi having also returned to Japan. Conversely Petone have just two changes to the side that went down to Tawa with Luke Flett starting at hooker for his 50th game and joined alongside him in the front row by Tali Sina. The contest between the loose forward trios, and particularly the two No8’s in Greg Foe and Tupou Sopoaga, should be well worth watching.
Oriental-Rongotai have the bye this week.
Premier 2 Hardham Cup
Each of the three regions play host to a Hardham Cup game. Out in the north, Paremata-Plimmerton host Old Boys-University at Ngati Toa Domain where the result should, at the very least, be closer than when they last met two weeks ago. Pare-Plim will take heart from their second-half effort against MSP last week, while OBU will surely be looking to maintain form ahead of next week’s clash with MSP. Pare-Plim move captain James Corcoran to the blindside while Johnathan Sabo is handed the #10 shirt with the Goats starting 13 of the 15 from last week, with flankers Matt Sleith and Caleb Delany the only changes.
The sole Hardham Cup game in the city is at Hataitai Park, where Wellington host the Upper Hutt Rams. The Axemen gave a reasonable account of themselves in patches against OBU and will be after a full 80 minutes of that this outing. To do that their side has a handful of changes; there’s a forwards reshuffle that sees Max Allen move to the openside, try-scoring lock James Poloniati to No.8 and Sam Gard’ner to the bench while the backline has the return to Axemen colours of Matt Goosen who’ll start at fullback. The Rams will themselves be looking for an improved effort after struggling to subdue Johnsonville a week ago and repeat the 46-26 win from the Swindale meeting. Go forward was an issue against the Hawks, and the returns of Sio Luamanu and Josh Brown to the forwards should improve that.
The third match is in the Hutt Valley, with Avalon starting their campaign after having the first-up bye against visitors Johnsonville. Like Pare-Plim and OBU, these two met just two weeks ago where Avalon won 21-17, with the major difference since then being the Wolves got to put their feet up for last Saturday’s miserable weather while Johnsonville were out in it. The Wolves have made several changes to the side that took the field in what was effectively a dead rubber two weeks ago, though there is the always eye-catching inclusion of the name ‘Waldrom’, in this case its Scott who’ll pack down at No8. The Hawks will look back on last Saturday as perhaps a missed opportunity to break their season duck, and their side tomorrow is almost unchanged.
Marist St Pat’s have the Hardham Cup bye this time out.
All six Premier matches are at the normal time of 2.45pm.
Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup and HD Morgan Memorial
In the top-flight of the second-tier the two first-up winners are both on the road with Norths heading to Mary Crowther to take on Wainuiomata and Petone going into the city to face Poneke at Kilbirnie. The third clash is at the Hutt Rec where HOBM return after their bye to host Tawa.
In the Division 2 matches OBU are at Ngati Toa to face Pare-Plim, Wellington and the Upper Hutt Rams are on Kilbirnie #3, and Avalon host Johnsonville at Fraser Park.
Ories and MSP have the respective byes this week.
Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy
After last week’s break the Women’s first-round concludes this week before it splits for the second-round. Oriental-Rongotai (35) needs just a point to claim the trophy that is named for one of their club legends and they’re at Kilbirnie Park #3 to face Marist St Pat’s (20), but a slip up however could open the way for Norths (31) – who travel to Petone (27) – to nip past.
Ories, Norths, and Petone are all assured of places in the championship Tia Paasi Cup section, but with the WRFU still uncertain about the second-round structure there’s at least one and possibly two teams yet to join them. MSP currently hold that guaranteed fourth place, but they need a result against Ories as both Old Boys-University (17) and Paremata-Plimmerton (16) seem likely to take the maximum five points as they host minnows Wainuiomata at Te Whaea tonight (7.30pm) and Poneke at Ngati Toa respectively. The latter two plus Hutt Old Boys Marist (who have the bye) are assured of playing in the Division 2 Izzy Ford Cup.
The three matches tomorrow are at 11.30am.
Colts John E Kelly and Vic Calcinai Memorials
Fresh up upsetting defending champions and first-round winners OBU Green, Oriental-Rongotai will see if they can get lightning to strike twice at the Polo Ground when they host runners-up Marist St Pat’s. OBU Green will attempt to get back into the winner’s circle when they visit Paremata-Plimmerton at Ngati Toa after – like their senior teams – they met just two weeks ago. Norths will aim to do likewise when they host Hutt Old Boys Marist at Porirua Park, and Petone and Tawa clash at the Petone Rec.
In Division 2 Wainuiomata hosts OBU Black at William Jones, Avalon and Johnsonville clash at Fraser Park, and Wellington and the Upper Hutt Rams meet at Hataitai. Poneke have the bye this round.
All seven matches are 1pm kick-offs.
Premiership First XV Draws & Results here: http://www.collegerugby.co.nz/national/games-results.php?competition=22&season=15&round=3
As with last week the round got off to an early start with Silverstream accounting for Wellington College 30-12 in their Traditional clash on Wednesday. Through two completed rounds Aotea are the surprise leaders having taken maximum points (and aided by Scots falling foul of player eligibility rules) but face the first real test of their credentials when they meet St Pat’s Town at Evans Bay. The eastern suburbs host all three games in Wellington with Scots facing Kapiti in Strathmore and Rongotai hosting Hutt International, with both visiting sides significant underdogs. These three matches are all 2.30pm kick-offs, with the other match seeing Wairarapa College at home for the visit of St Bernard’s at 1pm.
In Premier 2 there are three unbeaten sides in Tawa, Hutt Valley HS, and the St Pats Town 2nds. The first two face winless teams in hosting the Rongotai 2nds and away to Wainuiomata HS, while Town host Porirua at 1pm. The other two matches have Taita at home against Upper Hutt in a valley derby, and the Silverstream 2nds host Mana. The Wainuiomata/HVHS and Taita/Upper Hutt games also double as matches in the knockout Coed Cup.
All matches are at 2.30pm unless stated.
The First Grade Thompson Memorial round finishes this week, with Stokes Valley having claimed the silverware in front of their 70th Anniversary day crowd by beating OBU last Saturday. They have the bye this week.
All 10 Under 85s teams are in action this weekend in the penultimate round of the JC Bowl, where the unbeaten Avalon Wolves can retain the trophy should they win against Paraparaumu up the coast at Te Atiawa Park. The Upper Hutt Rams and Wellington are the only sides within range, but need to win their matches and hope Avalon don’t just lose this week, but next week as well (when they play the Rams).
It’s also the penultimate weeks in the two Reserve Grade divisions. In the Mike Copeland Trophy Division 1 the Poneke Ruffnuts top the table but face the challenge of the Petone Brotherhood at Kilbirnie tomorrow, while in Division 2 the leaders are the Paremata-Plimmerton Punters, who host the OBU 69ers at Ngati Toa.