- By Scott MacLean
Draws and teamlists HERE
The rugby roads tomorrow lead in the direction of the Petone Rec for the major WRFU Finals Day. Nine matches will be played with the first kicking-off at 11am and the last at 3pm. The summer homes for the Jubilee and Hardham Cups will be found, along with the grade and division crowns in the Women’s, Premier Reserve, Colts, and First Grade.
Last year we saw two finals go to extra-time and third that probably should have, with the Premier titles being decided by just a single point and the defiance of a stirring comeback. What will tomorrow bring?
Premier Jubilee Cup
Northern United vs Wainuiomata
Seventeen games down. One more for title glory. Will Norths go one better than they did last year or will surprise package Wainuiomata claim their maiden championship?
Many expected Norths to be strong contenders, having put the fallow years in the middle of this decade behind them. However few outside of the valley expected Wainuiomata to be amongst that category, citing their ageing squad and that they appeared to be in decline having missed the Jubilee Cup a year ago.
Opening day back in March saw the two finals contenders experience contrasting results. Norths enjoyed a 76-17 romp against Johnsonville, while Wainuiomata endured a 19-37 loss at home to Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Norths would go unbeaten in the first weeks, with four wins and a draw with Petone but their Swindale challenge wilted after that with three losses in the remaining weeks. Two of those came in the final pair of matches but by then their place in the Jubilee Cup was secured and they finished second, albeit 14 points behind runaway winners HOBM. Wainuiomata sat outside the cut-off after six rounds, but then rattled off four wins to make sure of their place. In the Jubilee both sides won four of their six matches but needed wins over Tawa and HOBM respectively in the last round two weeks ago to ensure qualification.
Once there, both sides achieved one-point wins away from home, and both against those opponents for the third time this year. Norths edged Tawa 18-17 at Lyndhurst courtesy of a late Campbell Woodmass try, while across town at the Polo Ground a death-knock penalty from Josh Robertson-Weepu got Wainuiomata up 21-20 over Ories.
The two teams have met just once this year owing to not being drawn against each in this year’s new shortened Swindale format. That came six weeks ago when Wainuiomata won 24-22, with the game turning on an off-the-ball incident that saw Norths’ Luca Rees sent off.
Norths will go with the same 15 that ended up starting last weekend after the late inclusion of Hurricanes flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi. Their only change in personnel comes on the bench where Losi Filipo is included for the first time in six weeks, with Denny To’o the player making way. Skipper Parekura Lalaga – starting again at No8 – is the sole survivor from their last title in 2010, but such is their depth and ability to develop talent that he is one of just six players from last years starting side to do so again tomorrow; the others being Kirifi, prop Jerome Vaai, and backs Kienan Higgins, Junior Time-Tautoa, and Johnny Teleaga.
Wainuiomata have just a sole change in their starting personnel with Thomas Umaga-Jensen returning to partner his twin brother in midfield. That sees them revert to the backline alignment they used against HOBM two weeks ago with TJ Va’a at halfback and John Monu at first-five. The latter is one of a half-dozen players who started their only previous Jubilee Cup final five years ago, along with tomorrow’s captain Greg Lealofi, locking duo Bevan Clark and Glen Angus, fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu, and Marvin Karawana who started in midfield then and will on the blindside flank tomorrow.
There’s plenty of matchups worth looking at. One will be in the air at lineout time between Wainuiomata’s two veterans Clark and Angus and Norths’ relative youngsters Tana Salzmann and Waylon Baker, and there will be interest in how Wainuiomata combats Kirifi’s influence and ability at the breakdown. Expect a good confrontation between halfbacks Va’a and Campbell Woodmass, a battle of an experienced head versus youthful exuberance in the #10 jerseys between Monu and Eli Moata’a, and in midfield where the twins go up against prodigy Kienan Higgins and the unheralded Jayden McCarthy. If goal-kicking becomes a factor Robertson-Weepu has been on song, while Moata’a has been perhaps shaky off the tee.
The impact of the two benches where Norths have Rees, Mike Ioapo, Filipo, and Esi Komaisavai and Wainuiomata have ageless pair Justin Va’a and Uale Mai, youngster Sam Smith and veterans Isaiah Mamea and Ben Tupuola could have a significant bearing on the outcome.
The great unknown in all of this is the ground itself, which cut up badly in last weekend’s Premier Reserve semi-final. The week’s weather has been kind, but with the Women’s final preceding it a question mark will remain over what its condition will be like.
On the season Norths have won 11 and drawn one of their 17 matches so far. Their team tallies are 512 points scored and 371 conceded, with 84 tries. With 18 of those former Ories and Petone No8 Rees is their top try scorer and those 90 points also tops the team with goalkicking duties having been shared around several players.
Wainuiomata are one ahead in the win’s column with W12 L5. With 145 points Josh Robertson-Weepu is their top scorer and Peter Umaga-Jensen’s nine tries tops that list. Overall, they’ve scored 442 points, conceded 348, and scored 62 tries.
They’ll also be a new face in charge this year with Nick Hogan the referee. It may be Hogan’s first Jubilee Cup final but is vastly experienced at this level and beyond, having controlled 84 Wellington Premier matches to date including several semi-finals. He has also been part of the NZ Rugby National Squad for several seasons, made his Mitre10 Cup debut last year, and has operated this year as an Assistant Referee at Super Rugby level. He refereed that earlier meeting between the two, which is also his only time he’s refereed Wainuiomata this year, while Norths have had him on three other occasions. He’ll be assisted by fellow long-serving referees Vincent Ringrose and Daniel Mangin.
Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
Premier Hardham Cup
Old Boys-University vs Marist St Pat’s
In recent years this pairing of teams would have been a preseason pick for the Jubilee Cup; indeed the two teams met in the championship decider as recently as 2015 when the Goats claimed the first of the three titles they’ve claimed since then. However 2019 has not been a vintage one for either club with both the defending two-time and 14-time overall champions finding themselves consigned to the Hardham Cup after sluggish Swindale campaigns. However these are two proud clubs and pride and bragging rights are very much at stake.
OBU’s Swindale issue was a lack of consistency, but they’ll look back at the late try conceded to Norths, the loss to Petone, and then the one in the penultimate round to Wainuiomata at home as the critical results that saw them miss out. But they’re unbeaten in the Hardham Cup and saw off the Upper Hutt Rams for the second time in as many weeks to make it to today.
For MSP the damage was done early, as after six rounds of the Swindale they languished in 11th place with just one win (over Johnsonville) and a draw and had endured losses to both Wellington and the Upper Hutt Rams. They did win their last four games, but it proved too little too late and they found themselves playing in the Hardham Cup for the first time since 1975. They have taken five wins from six in the Hardham and beat Wellington handily in their semi-final.
The two meetings between the teams have been hard fought affairs however. In the first the Goats prevailed 15-10 on their Nairnville home paddock, and then repeated that at Evans Bay winning 20-10. It seems reasonable to expect more of the same tomorrow.
OBU have a handful of changes to their semi-final winning side. Zeke Sopoaga and Shamus Hurley-Langton return to the pack from injury and NZ Maori U20 duty respectively, while in the backs Sam Reid returns at fullback with Adam Clark shifting to the wing. Morgan Poi joins Sopoaga and captain Jonathan Fuimaono in the front row, with cult hero Finnbarr Kerr-Newell on the bench.
MSP have just one change, with that an enforced one in the #1 jersey where Tui Tuiatua comes in for season captain Vince Sakaria whose mother passed away during the week. Evergreen Fa’atonu Fili and Hurricanes player Billy Proctor again start at first-five and fullback respectively. Tyrone Thompson and Keelan Whitman have places on the bench after NZ Maori U20 duties last week.
Colin Te Pohe is the referee for this match and will be assisted by fellow Premier referees Jamie Fairmaid and Steve Newson.
Women’s Tia Paasi Memorial and Izzy Ford Cups
For the second successive year, and the fifth in the last seven, the Women’s championship decider for the Tia Paasi Memorial Cup will be played out between Northern United and Oriental-Rongotai.
Norths, the defending champions after last year’s pulsating 20-15 triumph, probably go in with the favourites tag having won five of their six matches in the double round-robin second-round format with their last match last week having been a useful warm-up as they were pushed by OBU before pulling away late.
Conversely, it’s been a bumpy few weeks for Ories, with the first-round winners dropping consecutive matches to Norths and then OBU. The latter was the only defeat suffered by either finalist at the hands of a team other than each other, while the defeat to Norths was the heaviest that they’ve suffered in many years.
The slate between them this season is 2-1 so far in favour of Ories, who took the first-round meeting 28-20 at Westpac Stadium and then a last-minute converted try got them up 21-20 in the first of the second-round meetings with Norths crushing them 56-7 in the most recent encounter. On the season Norths have scored 125 tries to Ories’ 68, but that doesn’t consider the three times they were defaulted to in the first round.
Norths are, in the main, unchanged from last week’s side, but compared to last year’s final starters there’s considerable turnover with just five players – skipper Sanita Levave, loose forwards Nina Foaese and Leah Conley, inside back Shaye Whareaorere, and NZ Sevens winger Dhys Faleafaga – back this year. In comes an infusion of youth in Lyric Faleafaga, Mariah Chadwick, and sisters Paige and Tyra Misky. They have suffered one significant blow however, with wrecking ball prop Dora Laupola ruled out after reportedly suffering injuries in a car accident en route to their game last week.
Ories are bolstered by the return of their Black Ferns duo of captain Joanah Ngan-Woo and try-scoring winger Ayesha Leti-l’iga. They are two of 10 returnees from last years final starters which includes front-rowers Alicia Print and Raylene Lolo and backs Rey Uluinayau, Amanda Rasch, Faasua Makisi, and Bernadette Robertson. However the eye-catching name on their team sheet is that of Black Ferns legend Selica Winiata who is named on the bench and would seem to be a controversial inclusion in the match. Leti-l’iga also plays her Blazer game.
The first game up on the day’s slate is the Division 2 Izzy Ford Cup between Paremata-Plimmerton and Marist St Pats. The pair were perhaps unlucky to miss out on Division 1 status for the second round and come in on the back of contrasting score lines last week; Pare-Plim pushed past Wainuiomata 48-0 while MSP edged HOBM 32-31. Those respective experiences might benefit MSP more in a finals setting, though the Ngati Toa side have the edge of having come from behind to win their last meeting two weeks ago. MSP get a boost with the return of their Black Fern Marcelle Parkes, with Pare-Plim will be without the Burgess sisters – who have missed just one game between them this season – due to prior commitments.
No fewer than three Pare-Plim players – halfback Lesina Obeda and outside backs Mele Kupa-Cummings and Kayla Hauparoa-Rei – will also play their blazer game in the final, while MSP captain Taimane Siaosi will earn hers.
NZ Rugby National Squad referee Monique Dalley moves up to referee the championship match this year having had the Division 2 final a year ago and is familiar to both teams having also had the earlier match between the two at Westpac. Promising youngster Ollie Michie will referee the Division 2 decider.
Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup and HD Morgan Memorial Cup
The fields at the north end of the Rec will be the venues for the two Premier Reserve finals, with the second division HD Morgan Memorial is up first at 12pm between Marist St Pats and the Upper Hutt Rams. MSP find themselves in the unusual (and perhaps frankly ridiculous) situation of not being able to defend their Division 1 title from a year ago despite being unbeaten on the season and winners of the Harper Lock Shield, but will be determined to finish the job that’s been set for them. Aside from the narrow 12-8 win over OBU they’ve had their way with the rest of the grade scoring 426 points in six games and conceding just 40, and then beat Wellington 64-0 last Saturday. It’s a tough ask for the Rams, who beat OBU 24-19 to make the final, and will have to turn around the 0-21 and 17-58 losses to MSP earlier in the year.
Kicking-off an hour later next door is the Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup decider between Northern United and Petone at 1pm. Norths have lost only once in the whole campaign with that coming in the virtual final for the first-round Harper Lock Shield to MSP, along with a draw against OBU. They’ve scored over 100 points more in their six second round games than anyone, albeit swelled by 80+ point romps against HOBM and Wainuiomata, but their closest result came against Petone where they prevailed 19-14. They beat Oriental-Rongotai 34-12 in their semi-final. The Villagers have been active on the past two Finals Days on their home patch, winning this title two years ago before missing out on the Division 2 crown last year. That loss to Norths was their only one of the round and they’ve conceded the fewest points in the division and made the final after seeing off Tawa 25-21 a week ago.
John Ballingall is the referee for the Ed Chaney decider, with Ronan Marks doing likewise for the HD Morgan final.
Colts John E Kelly and Vic Calcinai Memorial Cups
Like the Women’s final, the top division in the Colts grade for the John E Kelly Memorial will be fought out between two teams that have dominated the stage in recent years, with Hutt Old Boys Marist and Old Boys University meeting for the fifth time in seven years.
The Eagles have found their wings in the second round winning six of their seven matches after recording just three wins in the opening half of the season. That recent record included an 18-7 win over tomorrows opponents two weeks ago, but this crop must overcome the hoodoo over having lost all four previous finals against the Goats including last year’s 55-0 drubbing.
The defending champion Goats carried on from where they left off last year in going unbeaten through the first-round to capture the Paris Memorial Trophy. They then surprisingly lost to newly-promoted Ories the following week but overcame that and a much-publicised points deduction after another incident with MSP to book their playoff place. Also expect them to be a much stronger unit than the side between two weeks ago.
HOBM beat MSP 37-17 in their semi-final despite playing much of the second-half with just 14 after a red card, while OBU accounted for Ories 24-3 after the Magpies were also reduced for more than half the match. The Eagles are looking for their second title in this grade this decade, while the Goats are gunning for their seventh.
Following that on the same ground at 2.15pm is the Vic Calcinai Memorial Division 2 decider, an all upper valley contest between the Avalon Wolves and the Upper Hutt Rams. The Wolves have spent the season in the division and qualified second, where they edged OBU Black 15-14 on home turf last week. The Rams started the season in the top division, but after a winless campaign were relegated and finished the round-robin fourth, and qualified for tomorrow after beating top qualifiers Poneke 26-12 at Kilbirnie. In their only meeting this year the Wolves took the spoils winning 14-10.
Matt Thomas – who had last year’s Ed Chaney final – will referee the major Colts final with Charles Visser to control the Division 2 match.
First Grade Johnsonville Centennium Cup
The last final to kick off is the addition to this year’s schedule, the First Grade final between top-qualifiers Avalon and first-round Thompson Memorial winners Stokes Valley. The pair have split their two meetings this year with Stokes Valley taking the first meeting 33-29 and the Wolves the most recent one a fortnight ago by 33-7, so the latter would seem to go in as favourites. However Stokes Valley will be motivated by the memories of a year ago when they were beaten by HOBM in the championship decider and will want to go one better this time.
Another young referee, Brad Newson, will control this final.
There’s a change this year to the tiebreaker rules should any of the finals matches be tied at full-time. Extra-time of 10 minutes each way will still be played, but the “golden point” period that followed this if required has been scrapped. Replacing it is most tries scored in the final, followed then by who won the head-to-head match in the second round. In the case of the Tia Paasi Memorial final where Norths and Ories played twice and won one match each, a draw after 100 minutes would be determined by points-difference from the second round which comfortably favours Norths.
11am: Izzy Ford Cup – Paremata-Plimmerton vs Marist St Pats (Petone #3)
12pm: HD Morgan Memorial – Marist St Pats vs Upper Hutt Rams (Petone #2)
12.15pm: John E Kelly Memorial – Hutt Old Boys Marist vs Old Boys University Green (Petone #4)
12.30pm: Tia Paasi Memorial – Northern United vs Oriental-Rongotai (Petone #1)
1pm: Ed Chaney Cup – Northern United vs Petone (Petone #3)
2pm: Hardham Cup – Old Boys University vs Marist St Pats (Petone #2)
2.15pm: Vic Calcinai Memorial – Avalon Wolves vs Upper Hutt Rams (Petone #4)
2.30pm: Jubilee Cup – Northern United vs Wainuiomata (Petone #1)
3pm: Johnsonville Centennium Cup – Avalon Wolves vs Stokes Valley (Petone #3)
Elsewhere the Under 85kg grade reaches their semi-finals. In the Paul Potiki Shield Division 1 defending champions the Upper Hutt Rams host Paraparaumu at Maoribank while slightly further south the Avalon Wolves are at home against Johnsonville in a reverse of their fixture last week. The Tony O’Brien Shield Division 2 matches have top qualifiers Wellington hosting the OBU Scallywags at Hataitai (12.30pm), and Marist St Pats making the trek out to HW Shortt to face Eastbourne.
At the College level the eighth round of the Premiership got underway on Wednesday with Silverstream beating Town 33-24 in their annual Traditional. That means that both Scots and Rongotai can take over top spot tomorrow, with Scots hosting Aotea, and Rongotai locking horns with Wellington College on the western side of the Mt Victoria tunnel. Two of the minnow’s clash in Trentham with Hutt International and St Bernard’s meeting.
In Premier 2 leaders Tawa are already assured of a home semi-final and tomorrow head over the Haywards to face the Silverstream 2nds. The Town 2nds can join them as hosts when they’re visited by Upper Hutt, who along with the Silverstream 2nds, Hutt Valley HS, Porirua, and potentially Taita are all in a dogfight for the playoff spots with the latter three taking on the bottom three; HVHS are at Mana, Porirua visits Wainuiomata for an early kick-off driven by the Jubilee Cup final, and Taita host the winless Rongotai 2nds.
Other Finals teams not listed under our draws and results section as supplied (subject to change)
- Charlie Taanoa
- Tai Bryce
- Elisaia Fonoti
- Mitchell Stringer
- Riki Parata
- Rielly Edwards
- William Rua
- Mikaele Alaifatu
- Lupi Luka
- Oria Andrews
- Esera Andrews
- Vena Tuifao
- Albert Polu
- Sheik Karam
- Michael Martin
- Fredrick Sunia
- Christian Fiso
- Anthony Pesamino
- Jack Matheson
- Sean Atoni-Gatu
- Nathan Tanuvasa
- Nathan Stirling
OBU Colts Green
- Laurence Lim
- Samuel Alsemgeest
- Luke Gilbert
- Tiaki Fabish
- Dominic Herlihy
- Joshua Gimblett
- Tom Hoskin
- Joe Sharland
- William Carter
- Callum Whitten
- Michael Muir
- Oliver Paotonu
- Reece Plumtree
- Josh Thomas
- Jasper Edgar
- Daniel Hoare
- Jakob Morgan-Ranui
- Oskar Lynch
- Liam Zinzley
- Grishin Muller
- Miller McQuoid
- Isaac Wilson
- Kelepi Tamale
- Zjakaree-Tifa Tuisamoa-Pule
- Josiah Va’asili
- Jayden Allan
- Elman Melesala
- Russel Falani
- Ratu Semi Uluiviti
- Mark Savelio
- Mafa Metuli
- Massimo Viatte
- Fruen Samoa
- Victor Misa
- Demitri Perez
- Ben Yandall
- Ratu Valegatu
- Kolonio Bower
- Michael Little
- Glen Misa
- Matthew Tauiliili
- Ezra Sione
- Uso Brown
- Gordon Misa
Upper Hutt Rams Colts
- Tyler Brown
- Kaleb Sinclair
- Jeremiah Paku
- Astyn Martin
- Josh Paki
- Josh Iva
- Tyler Gibbons
- Mason Davis
- Elisha Te Pohe
- Shaun Hanning
- Joseph Te Naihi
- Luke Boon
- Luke Bond
- Brigham Sovala
- Tate Kelly
- Liam Sullivan
- Luke Sina
- Manase Taulanga
- Brayden Knight
- Kapani Maaka
- Joshua Nydam
- Cullen Dexter