- By Scott MacLean
UPDATED: The action tomorrow is mainly out in the eastern suburbs, with four of the six Premier matches taking place on that side of the Mt Victoria tunnel. Elsewhere the last of the grades finish their first rounds, and two – the Women’s and First Grade – start their championship rounds.
Premier Jubilee Cup
Jubilee Cup draws and teams HERE
Riding a seven-game winning streak, Wainuiomata sit joint-top of the table as they make the trip into the city to face the last side that beat them – Poneke – at Kilbirnie Park (that result was 21-19 at William Jones), and following last weekend’s win over North, have every reason to be confident. However Poneke responded in the ideal fashion to being blanked the week before in beating Petone and will be looking to do the same again.
Poneke have named almost the same XV as last week with Rhys Reiri and Alex Morrissey the two players coming in, and as you’d expect from them it seems much will rely on the loose trio of Greg Foe, Api McMillan-Parata, and Jimmy Hewitt – who had a storming game last week – and the vision of Pakai Turia. Things aren’t quite as settled for Wainuiomata but as they’ve shown over the past two months that hasn’t been a hindrance to them. Veteran Uale Mai again starts, while there’s a wealth of experience on the bench including Justin Va’a, Ben Tupuola, Isaiah Mamea, and Glen Angus, who returns after spending last season over at Petone.
Te Upoko o te Ika Radio 1161 AM and 87.6 FM will feature the Wainuiomata v Poneke Jubilee Cup match this Saturday. Dave Piper hosts the Karaka Cafe Rugby Club and today went to Hurricanes practice to ask coach John Plumtree about James O’Reilly and TJ Va’a two players in Club Rugby who are creating a stir for quite different reasons.
Through the cutting into Miramar Oriental-Rongotai return to action after last week’s bye, and keen to get themselves on the board after missing out to Wainuiomata in their first game of the round. The visitors are Hutt Old Boys Marist, with the Swindale winners likewise looking to get off the mark after a flat first-half coming off their bye week left them with too much to do against Tawa.
It’ll be a slightly different look for the Magpies tomorrow as, as part of their first “Old Boys and Girls Day”, players across all their senior teams are being encouraged to wear their school socks. They get a couple of important pieces back with William Heather returning to No8 and Trent Renata at first-five and Ha’amea Ahio starts a game for Ories for the first time since the 2016 semi-final in a much-changed side to two weeks ago.
HOBM will bring plenty of firepower with them, with James O’Reilly, Rei Manaia, and Lise Soloa all back in their starting side with Ben Power moving to the blindside. Their only change in the backs is the return of Brandyn Laursen for his first start since Opening Day last year.
When the pair met in the penultimate round of the Swindale just three weeks HOBM took the spoils that day by 41-31 in an entertaining encounter; and they’ll have the same referee they did that day in Daniel Mangin.
The sole Jubilee match out of the city is at Jerry Collins Stadium, where Norths take on Petone. Norths slipped to defeat against Wainuiomata a week ago, not helped by a second-half red card to top try-scorer Luca Rees. He misses tomorrow’s game through suspension with skipper Parekura Lalaga shifting to the back of the scrum. Bruce Kauika-Peterson and Losi Filipo face their former side, and the talented Eli Moata’a is handed the #10 jersey for his first Premier appearance of the season.
Petone are the only side with a played two, lost two record, and as the side with the bye in the final week really need to start getting wins on the board if there are to be a contender. Jarrod Adams and Viliami Fine form their midfield combination, while Ryan Imrie and Marcus Roil return up front.
These two played out a 19-all draw at the Rec when they met in the Swindale and will again have Nick Hogan with the whistle tomorrow.
Tawa have the bye this week.
Premier 2 Hardham Cup
Hardham Cup draws and teams HERE
In recent years, Marist St Pat’s against Old Boys-University has been one of the feature clashes of the Jubilee Cup, so it takes some getting used to that their meeting tomorrow at Evans Bay is in the Hardham Cup. That however will be put aside by the teams themselves, as the two favourites to contest the final will look to gain an edge over the other, and with it the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy that MSP will defend for the first time after taking it from Ories in the last round of the Swindale Shield.
MSP have rung some changes from the side that last took to the field two weeks ago, with Valentine Meachen and Naitoa Ah Kuoi starting, Jack Taulapapa gets the nod at halfback, and wily veteran Fa’atonu Fili’s name is amongst the reserves. The Goats bring back flankers Sam Godwin and Shamus Hurley-Langton, and there’s a debut at centre for Ty Poe.
A short distance away both Wellington and Avalon will look to repeat last week’s efforts when they meet at Hataitai Park. While some backed the Axemen to topple Upper Hutt few would have expected the margin to be what it was, and now there is some real impetus behind the rest of the season. Jason Bird, Sam Gard’ner, and Satch Pryor all return to the side for tomorrow.
Avalon showed little rust after their week off, racing out to a big early lead to put their game against Johnsonville away early. Their side tomorrow is minus the name ‘Waldrom’ but enterprising youngsters Jordan King and Tajun Crosland-Misa both start, as does big Ale Peni for his 50th game.
The third game of the round is up at the head of the Hutt Valley, where the Upper Hutt Rams will look to right their ship against Paremata-Plimmerton after last weekend’s mauling. On the other Pare-Plim might just be glad for some respite, having played both MSP and OBU twice along with Norths and Tawa since their last meeting in the Swindale Shield.
The Rams have several changes for a variety of reasons; amongst them there’s no Daniel Schrijvers or Kono Feaunati, but Lui Luamanu is named after being a late scratch last week and Josh Houston-Tupou starts at the back of the scrum. Pare-Plim stick with most of last week’s side though veteran pair Shane Hedges and Kewa McMillan-Parata return, the latter for his first outing this season.
Johnsonville have the Hardham Cup bye this week.
All six matches are underway at 2.45pm
Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup and HD Morgan Memorial
In the Ed Chaney division the match of the day is at Porirua Park, where the only sides that are two-from-two – Norths and Petone meet. Norths had an easy time of it against an overmatched Wainuiomata, while Petone were wobbling against Poneke until Piri Weepu’s appearance. The winless pair of Poneke and Wainuiomata meet at Kilbirnie, while at the Polo Ground Ories resume action against HOBM.
Also near those two matches are two of the HD Morgan clashes, with MSP and OBU meeting at Evans Bay, and Wellington and Avalon taking to Hataitai. By contrast the third match is some distance away, with the Upper Hutt Rams taking on Pare-Plim at Maoribank.
All matches are at 1pm. Tawa and Johnsonville are the sides with this week off.
Women’s Tia Paasi Memorial and Izzy Ford Cups
The second round draws sees a reversal of last year’s structure with the WRFU opting for a top-four/bottom-five split this year, meaning that the axe falls on the wrong side for fifth-placed Paremata-Plimmerton. The top division – for the Tia Paasi Memorial – will comprise a double round-robin ahead of a straight final for the top two qualifiers, and the division two Izzy Ford Cup is a single round-robin with semi-finals and a final.
The two Tia Paasi matches start with a blockbuster with heavyweights Oriental-Rongotai and Norths clashing at the Polo Ground; Ories loose forward Joanah Ngan-Woo will become the clubs first Women’s centurion by playing her 100th game before she and Ayesha Leti-l’iga head away to North America with the Black Ferns. The other match has Old Boys-University hosting Petone at Te Whaea, with the Impala’s keen to repeat their win from three weeks ago at the same venue though the Ponies will be a stronger outfit than they were that day.
In the Izzy Ford division Hutt Old Boys Marist return to action after having the past two weekends off when they host Poneke, while Wainuiomata and Marist St Pats – who lose Marcelle Parkes to Black Ferns duty after this match – take to the Fraser Park turf tonight at 7.30pm. Paremata-Plimmerton have the bye.
Colts John E Kelly and Vic Calcinai Memorial Cups
Like the Premier grades, the Colts enter their third round, with some of the matches serving as the curtainraisers for the following Premier contest, rather than the Premier Reserve clash. In the top division the highlight match is that of first-round winners OBU Green against runners-up Marist St Pats on the St Pats College artificial. The other three matches have Ories hosting HOBM at Polo, Norths and Petone get to run on Jerry Collins Stadium, and Tawa and Pare-Plim get to be away from the spotlight at Lyndhurst.
The three division two contests have Poneke taking on Wainuiomata on Kilbirnie #1, Wellington and Avalon nearby on #3 (at 12.45pm), and Johnsonville travel to Maoribank to face the Upper Hutt Rams. OBU Black has this week’s bye.
All matches are at 1pm, unless stated.
It’s a full five-game slate in the Premiership this week, headlined by the eastern suburbs clash between competition leaders St Pat’s Town and Rongotai College, at Rongotai. The third unbeaten side – Silverstream – are at home against winless St Bernard’s, while Scots make the journey to Masterton to face Wairarapa College (1pm kick-off). Aotea will be looking to add to their tally when they host winless Hutt International, and Wellington College will want to put two tough Traditional losses behind them when they head up the coast to play Kapiti.
In Premier 2 Tawa and the Town 2nds are the joint-leaders; Tawa are away at Taita while Town have the early game against their Rongotai counterparts. Hutt Valley HS and the Silverstream 2nds will battle over third place when they meet in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Wainuiomata will battle over competition points and a Coed Cup final berth, and Porirua and Mana will aim to drag themselves away from the foot of the table when they meet on the eastern side of the harbour.
All 10 matches are at 2.30pm, unless stated.
The First Grade starts their second round for the championship Johnsonville Centennium Cup, where the highlight match is the repeat of last years final between defending champions Hutt Old Boys Marist and first-round winners Stokes Valley. Only six teams are taking part, after Norths withdrew their team.
The Under 85s conclude their first-round before likely splitting into two divisions for the balance of the year. Here the feature clash is at Maoribank where the unbeaten Avalon Wolves – who have already retained the JC Bowl trophy – will be looking for a measure of atonement against the Upper Hutt Rams who denied them both the title and a perfect campaign last year.
In the two Reserve Grade divisions a win for the Poneke Ruffnuts over the Upper Hutt Pirates will give them the Division 1 Mike Copeland Trophy though a loss could mean some discussions at WRFU HQ next week, while in Division 2 the Paremata-Plimmerton Punters need just a point against bottom-side Wests to claim that title.