Five of six Wellington representative teams in action today won their matches, including the Wellington U19s and Wellington Development team who beat Hawke’s Bay opposition at Porirua Park. The Wellington U19s won 50-7 and the Wellington Development prevailed 27-26.
Over the hill at the Hutt Recreation Ground, the Wellington Maori side defeated the Wellington Centurions team 14-10.
Over the next hill in Masterton, the U18 Wellington Centurions beat the Wairarapa Bush U18s 36-22, while in Paraparaumu, the U18 Wellington Samoans beat the Horowhenua-Kapitu U18s 36-7 and at Ngati Toa Domain, the U18 Girls Centurions defeated the U18s Wellington Samoans Girls 24-17.
In Christchurch, the Wellington Pride were soundly defeated 19-57 by Canterbury in their opening Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup fixture.
In club rugby, the last final of the year was played at Maoribank Park with the home side Upper Hutt Rams J8s and Paremata-Plimmerton Punters contesting the Reserve Grade Division 2 Alan Seerup Cup decider. The Upper Hutt Rams team won the final 15-6.
In school rugby, three Wellington teams were in action in Palmerston North in Hurricanes region finals.
Aotea College missed out to Feilding High School 6-51 in the Hurricanes Co-ed Cup final and St Mary’s College met a 0-50 defeat to Manukura in the Hurricanes Girls final.
In the Boys final, Hastings Boys’ High School beat Palmerston North Boys’ High School 45-15.
Hastings BHS (Boys), Manukura (Girls) and Feilding HS (Co-ed) will be the Hurricanes teams at next weekend’s national Top 4 tournament.
In another match for the inaugural Life Members Cup, Hutt International Boys’ School met Lindisfarne College in the Hurricanes region Development final.
Wellington U19s (50) – Hawke’s Bay U19s (7)
The Wellington U19s beat the Hawke’s Bay U19s 50-7, to also win the Central Region Shield to qualify top from the Hurricanes region for the upcoming Jock Hobbs National U19 tournament in Taupo.
Both the Wellington squad will be named and the draw for the tournament will be made early this coming week. Wellington plays ‘South Island 2’ in their opener, likely Otago.
The theme of all three of the Wellington U19s matches has been that it has taken a while for them to get going. Once again, they were slow out of the gates, but lifted a gear early in the second half to pull clear and win comfortably at the end.
Wellington led 12-0 at halftime, against a competitive Hawke’s Bay who could count themselves unlucky not to have got on the scoreboard themselves from several raids into the attacking zone.
Wellington opened the scoring in the 13th minute when they ran it wide from a scrum 60 metres out to home town wing Junior Time-Taotua and he skirted up the grandstand touch and passed inside to former Napier BHS centre Leo Thompson who linked with halfback Issac Bracewell who scored under the bar.
Their second try wasn’t scored until just before halftime when they opted for an attacking scrum from a penalty in the corner and No. 8 Shamus Langton scored from the set-piece.
Turning into a gentle breeze, Wellington had plenty to do to shut down the Junior Magpies challenge. Enter lock Taine Plumtree, who set up one and scored another try in quick succession to than double Wellington’s lead and it was game over 12 minutes into the second spell.
In general play, first five-eighth Malo Manuao timed a pass to Plumtree who hit a gap and galloped into space, drew the last defender and set up a try for left wing Steven Va’a. Then Plumtree intercepted a pass and charged 50 metres up field to score again.
Hawke’s Bay pounced on a sloppy exit play to reply and score their only try of the match to centre Gideon Kautai, before Wellington pulled further ahead with tries to replacements Iona Apineru and Niko Manaena.
With five minutes to play, Wellington were sniffing a half century, and got it, through tries to Manuao, which he converted himself from out wide, and to Steven Va’a, who bagged his brace.
Wellington Development (27) – Hawke’s Bay Saracens (26)
The Wellington Development side used their get out jail free card against the Hawke’s Bay Saracens (Development), scoring the match winning try and conversion in injury time to win by a point.
Trailing 20-26, Centre Villiami Fine cut through first phase off an attacking scrum to score and first five-eighth Callum Harkin kicked a tricky conversion into the breeze from just inside the 15-metre line to put them ahead for the final time in the match.
There was still time to play as the visitors won the ball back from the kick-off and launched a late assault, but Wellington re-claimed possession and booted the ball into touch on fulltime with the scoreboard showing 84 minutes.
Hawke’s Bay had seemingly won the match only a few minutes prior to Fine’s winning strike, scoring a forwards try and converting to ask Wellington to score a converted try to win.
Wellington had hardly made a clean break for an hour, so it was heartbreak for the Magpies when they fell behind.
Earlier in the second half, ill-discipline had threatened to derail Wellington’s chances, losing three players to the sin-bin for separate offences, including Harkin just before halftime, and playing with 13 men at one point.
Wellington had led 17-12 at halftime, after Hawke’s Bay had scored first, but Wellington answered with three tries starting from a strike up the grandstand touchline finished off by hooker Josh Houston-Tupou.
Hawke’s Bay were left rueing missed chances early in the second half, knocking over in the corner over the tryline and then their forwards coming up short after a concerted period of close-quarter attacking play.
They eventually scored to move ahead 19-17, but a Wellington penalty to Harkin put them back in front 20-19, before the game played out in the final several minutes.