- By Steven White and Adam Julian
Petone (pictured above with the Bill Elvy Memorial Trophy) and Northern United won the two closest games of the fourth round of Wellington’s Premier Swindale Shield on Saturday, as all the home teams prevailed and Tawa and Old Boys University sit atop the standings as the only unbeaten teams.
In a tight match, Petone capitalised on Marist St Pat’s having two players sent to the sin-bin, opening up a 20-7 lead at halftime. MSP came back to score converted tries in the 56th and 67th minutes, but the Villagers held on to the end to prevail 20-19 and register their third win in four outings.
Norths came back from 24-3 down against the Hutt Old Boys Marist Eagles to win 30-27 at home at Jerry Collins Stadium. Norths took the lead for the first time with a converted try going 27-24 up, but the Eagles levelled the scores with a penalty to make it 27-27. Norths had the final say with a late penalty.
A Wellington College, Old Boys University beat Johnsonville 52-7, the biggest winning margin of the day, while Tawa joined them in the unbeaten column with a 36-18 win over Oriental-Rongotai at Lyndhurst Park (see more below).
At Kilbirnie Park, Poneke leapt to a 24-0 lead over Paremata-Plimmerton, en route to winning 36-21. Poneke out scored the visitors five tries to two.
At Maidstone Park, the Upper Hutt Rams beat the Avalon Wolves 33-17 for the Harper Vine Trophy (see more below).
At William Jones Park, Hurricanes midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen was a key figure in Wainuiomata’s 37-14 Bill Jones Cup win over the Wellngton Axemen, scoring two tries and always dangerous. Wing Trei Mu also bagged a brace, while the Axemen’s No. 8 Malifa Chapman capped off a good performance scoring a try from a strong run off the back of a scrum.
At Lyndhurst Park home side Tawa sealed a 36-18 win over Ories but not after withstanding a second half resurgence by the visitors. Tawa led 22-5 at halftime and then crossed for their fourth and bonus point try early in the second half through openside flanker Hemi Fermanis and converted by former Ories fullback Trent Renata, which extended their lead to 29-8.
But Ories, with the moderate breeze behind them, came right back, exerting pressure and scoring the next two tries. The first to Jason Seumanufagai was from a charge-down of a Tawa clearing kick, and the second was scored by hooker Penieli Poasa after an attacking lineout. With these tries and the introduction of former All Black’s midfielder Ma’a Nonu – who had earlier played a full 80 minutes in a thrilling curtain raiser victory for the Magpies second side – saw Ories cut the deficit to 18-29.
Tawa regrouped at the end and strung together a 90 second sweeping team movement and right wing Romu Senileba scored in the clubhouse corner and Renata converted from the sideline to seal a match that was tighter than the scoreline suggested.
Tawa had scored three well taken first half tries. The first two were scored by right wing Senileba and the third to left wing Maui Wallace. Halfback Kem Hauiti-Parapara and centre Maiva were both prominent in these strikes as a more clinical Tawa showed creativity and flair out wide.
Ories scored one first half try. Attackng the line off a penalty and attacking lineout in the corner, and then spinning it wide to Ethan Webster-Nonu and try scorer and fullback Alex Ropeti.
Renata had the final say of the first spell by landing a 49 metre penalty.
The earlier Premier Reserve game was won 19-17 by Ories who stormed back in the second half to take the spoils.
But Tawa will count themselves unlucky not to have snatched victory at the end. They were hot on attack and awarded a penalty but the short kick to set up a lineout in the corner was kicked into the in-goal in error and referee MacLean blew fulltime.
Again, Tawa had made much of the early running to lead 17-5 at the turnaround after leading 10-0 early.
Ories like their Premier team that followed reeled them in and took the lead off a 5 metre scrum and kicking the conversion with a couple of minutes to play.
At Maidstone Park, the Upper Hutt Rams extended their unbeaten run against Avalon to 15 consecutive matches.
The Rams threatened a blowout in the opening quarter scoring four tries to lead 26-0. The Rams sliced through the midfield for three tries and muscled over from a lineout drive through hooker Eli Hunt.
Midfield backs Konelio Feaunati and Daniel Schrijvers were incisive, allowing wings Josh Svenson and Hokianga Morunga ample space. Svenson is a converted flanker who at times showed a startling turn of pace and Mourunga was less subtle with his damage.
In the forwards, Jamie Norman proved hard to contain and Hunt was full of bustle, sometimes overplaying his hands in the backs.
The Rams will be disappointed with their lack of killer instinct. A string of penalties, and some commendable fight by Avalon, saw the halftime score reduced to 26-5.
The second half was often sluggish, but Avalon had much the better of proceedings. Lock Neru Lafaele looked promising while flanker Faalalo Wright typically punches above his weight and in midfield Jordan Aquila was illusive.
With about 10 minutes remaining Avalon closed to 26-17, but in reality, the visitors never looked likely winners and Upper Hutt reserve halfback Kaide McCashin had the final say from a five-meter scrum blindside put down.
Avalon leads the Harper Vince history overall 22-18.
In other Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield matches, Stokes Valley enjoyed their first win of the competition, beating the Avalon Wolves 15-5 on their Old Timers’ Day at Delany Park.
The Petone Brotherhood and Wainuiomata drew 22-22 in their match.
At the top of the table, Norths took their fourth straight bonus point win, beating HOBM 54-12 in the early game at Jerry Collins Stadium.
OBU beat Johnsonville 47-7, Poneke defeated Paremata-Plimmerton 43-15 and MSP beat Petone A 29-15.
In Premier Women’s fixtures, Marist St Pat’s ran in nine tries in beating the Avalon She-Wolves on Friday night at Fraser Park.
One of the two matches today was also one-sided, with Norths tighthead prop Dora Laupola (pictured right) scoring four tries in her side’s 71-5 win over HOBM, while the OBU Impalas beat Poneke 29-10.
Ories had the bye but are on a maximum 15 points after three matches, while Norths and Petone (defaulted to today by Paremata-Plimmerton) are also unbeaten after three matches.
In third round Paris Memorial Trophy Colts matches, the Norths Colts Blue and HOBM Green teams drew 13-13 in a feature match.
OBU Green beat Johnsonville 78-0 to move to the top of the standings.
Petone Blue edged Tawa 19-17, Norths White beat Poneke 43-26 and the Upper Hutt Rams opened their season with a 18-5 win over OBU Black.
The Upper Hutt Rams won their third straight victory in the JC Bowl U85kg competition, beating the HOBM Howlers 51-0.
Defending champions the Avalon Wolves came off their bye to defeat the Wellington Axemen 32-10, while Eastbourne beat the OBU Scallywags 37-27 and Poneke beat Wests 44-26.
In a First XV traditional fixture, New Plymouth Boys’ High School retained the Shane McDonald Shield with a 32-31 victory over St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
Silverstream centre Riley Higgins had the chance to win the game on fulltime with a conversion attempt about 10 metres in from touch and 30 metres out. Cruelly he pushed the ball wide to the left of the uprights as New Plymouth, who never trailed, hung on for a deserved victory.
New Plymouth burst out the gates like a freight train to lead 19-0. Fullback Matua Robinson finished a thrilling break and chip by wing Samuweia Vakaindula to open the scoring and then the visitors employed their greater size and lineout drive to power ahead further. Locks Jacob Mitchell and Rowan Slater (son of All Black Gordon Slater) were very good. Second-Five Levi Rewiti scored a try and looked assured.
Higgins was the single biggest reason Silverstream rallied. He scored a try after New Plymouth incurred the wrath of the referee and from the next kickoff make a 50-metre break, chipping for halfback Tjay Clarke to run down. The halftime score was 19-14.
New Plymouth first-five Jack Parker kicked a penalty to make it 22-14 before a robust by Silverstream made it 22-19. New Plymouth appeared home and hoised at 32-19, but the departure of Parker and a rapid demise in scrum strength saw Silverstream rally again. Higgins was a constant threat and the energy of lock Toby Crosby and No.8 Peter Laki was palpable.
It was a bust by reserve flanker Patrick Solomona that put Silverstream first-five Luke Walmsley over for the try that could have won it.
New Plymouth has won 55 of the 92 games against Silverstream.