By Scott MacLean
Grades taking place with alterations to fixtures (see attached):
- Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Cup
- Men’s Swindale Shield
Grades postponed this weekend:
- Harper Lock Shield (Premier Reserve)
- Paris Memorial Trophy (Colts)
- JC Bowl (Under 85kg)
- Mike Copeland Cup (Reserve Grade)
- Presidents Grade
No decision will be made on the status of these postponed games until next week.
All Matches Spectator Free
To give participants the safest environment possible the WRFU is asking for all matches to be played spectator free.
We will shortly be sharing the attached image on our website and social media and ask all Clubs either post this or share from our channels.
100 People Bubbles
To achieve 100 participant bubbles each Club will be permitted to bring 45 people to their games this weekend. Key Club contacts have been asked to provide a list of their 45 by 9am tomorrow morning as part of their Event Plan (NZR requirement) for signoff.
The other 10 people will be reserved for match officials and WRFU representatives.
Draws & Results HERE
The leading sides in the Swindale Shield can put further space between them and the chasing pack, with the latter group able to greatly improve their fortunes if they can achieve what would be an upset result.
There’s two majors milestone tomorrow. One is Ories Women’s back Timena Tumai’i becoming the club’s fourth women’s centurion (and second this season). It’s a bit of history as well with her father Fa’avae – the side’s current assistant coach – having himself played over 160 matches for the Magpie Premiers and over a hundred more for the second side, and as far Club Rugby can tell they become the first father-daughter centurions in Wellington rugby history. The second is Avalon flanker Logan Blake who also joins the 100 club when his side take on Pare-Plim and who’s wiry frame belies his toughness. Additionally robust Upper Hutt midfielder Kono Feaunati plays his 100th Premier match, split over 52 for Norths and 48 for the Rams. What’s more, Wainuiomata lock Daniel Cherry plays his 150th Premier match. Club Rugby congratulates all four players.
Premier Swindale Shield
A point clear at the top of the standings at this stage of the season for the first time in a while are Petone, who will look to remain there when the Upper Hutt Rams come down the valley to the Petone Rec. The Villagers have won six on the trot since their only loss of the year and will be favourites to do so again; and have restored most of their first choice side with Jack Ross, Tupou Sopoaga, Carne Green and Willie Tufui all returning, with Logan Henry returning to halfback and Piri Paraone to fullback. The Rams have made life difficult for Petone in past encounters and despite the top four being out of reach will look to push into those 5th-8th places for the Hardham Cup. They have Murphy Taramai for one more week, with their only changes being for Nevin Ruatara and Hokianga Morunga.
As well as the competition points, they’ll also play for their Ted Connolly Cup. Connolly, along with his brothers Adrian and Eric, was an influential member of the Upper Hutt club before, during, and after WWII. Petone are the holders after their 36-26 win in the 2018 Hardham Cup round-robin.
Lying second a point behind in second and boasting the best defensive record so far are Old Boys-University who return to their Khandallah paddock when hosting Wellington at Nairnville. Also with just a single loss on their record, the Goats are lining up returning silverware back to the Cambridge and will be warm favourites against the 11th-placed Axemen. They’ve opted to leave some firepower on the bench, so Luke Chisholm, Sam Godwin, Matt Sleith, and Josh Thomas get opportunities to start. It doesn’t get any easier for the Axemen who faced Petone last week but they’ll go again with big Malifa Chapman back at No8, with Matt Goosen, facing the team he won a Jubilee Cup with, switching back to first-five and returns for wingers Dean McMahon and Sam Ellis.
The Goats will defend two trophies; one is the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy with the other being their Dean Gifford Memorial Cup. Gifford, who passed away in 2012, played for a number of clubs in Wellington including both the Axemen and OBU.
In terms of places on the table, the spiciest match of the round is at Evans Bay between top-four contenders Marist St Pats and Tawa. The pair had contrasting results last week, with MSP falling to a beefed-up HOBM side while Tawa were relatively untroubled in beating Johnsonville, with the potential being that the side that loses this match might find it hard to crack back into those precious top-four places. MSP have added some thump with hard-hitting pair Valentine Meachen and James Tuiatua returning, while Jonathan Taumateine’s elevation to the Hurricanes means Ken Kapeli starts. Injuries rule out both Ofa Siale and Andrew Wells. Tawa return several players, with Sitiveni Paongo and James Coburn joining the latters brother Tony – who shifts to hooker – in the front row, along with Sio Fidow and Kalim Kelemete with the latters inclusion seeing a backline reshuffle.
After their slow start, Norths have edged back into that top-four and like Petone have banked six wins on the trot. They’re back at home on Jerry Collins Stadium where they’ll face Poneke who greatly improved their chances in beating Ories last weekend but will need to win here to keep their realistic chances of the top four afloat. The home team return Gerard Faitotoa, Ethan Robinson-Mate, Jerome Vaai, and Bruce Kauika-Petersen to their pack and Campbell Woodmass, Johnny Teleaga, and Junior Time-Taotua to their backline, but the eye-catching name is TJ Perenara’s on the bench with Clubrugby understanding that he hasn’t travelled with the Hurricanes due to the impending arrival of his first child. Poneke have just one change from the team that beat Ories with Sam Ready in for Hauwai McGahan, meaning Cole Stewart shifts to No8 and Greg Foe to openside.
The pair play for the Cyril Collett Memorial Shield. Collett played for Porirua in the 1950’s, with his sons Paul and Bruce later turning out for Porirua and Poneke. It’s held by Norths after their 26-0 win in their sole meeting last year, which came in the Jubilee Cup round-robin.
Despite winning last week, Hutt Old Boys Marist remained on the outside looking-in at the top four and likely will need maximum points if they are to achieve that at close of play. That won’t be easy, with Wainuiomata coming over the hill to the Hutt Rec, and will be buoyed after producing a resounding win on their Old Timers Day over Paremata-Plimmerton, and although like many others that top four is perhaps out of reach they’ll be keen to take down their neighbours. HOBM are without both Chase Tiatia and Salesi Rayasi who are on the Hurricanes bench, with their places taken by Blake McGregor and Fereti Soloa while there’s a first sighting for the year of Lions halfback Connor Collins. Wainuiomata are minus TJ Va’a, so Josh Robertson-Weepu takes the #10 jersey and Dan Cherry, Blade Rapira, and Dion Lealofi all start in the pack.
After their loss last weekend, Oriental-Rongotai’s Jubilee Cup hopes seem all but shot and only maximum points from here on out would give them any sniff of a chance. They’ll back themselves to do that tomorrow as they head to Helston to face winless Johnsonville which includes several of their former clubmates. The Magpies have made a host of changes including resting a number of their veterans, but have the notable inclusion of Alex Fidow who’ll start at No8, and former St Pats Town and MSP pivot Grayson Whitman. For their part the Hawks also have a Hurricanes player (and former Orie) in Kane Leau’pepe, and a return to Wellington club rugby for former Wests Rooster Thomas Donaldson at halfback with Irishman Mark Sutton moving out to first-five.
The two will contest their Ash Pointon Cup, now played in memory of the man who played firstly over 160 games for Ories and 120 for Johnsonville over a 19-year career following his passing in 2017 aged just 56. Ories are the holders, with Johnsonville last winning this in 2014 with a shock 19-16 win at the Polo Ground.
Finally, out at Ngati Toa Domain two sides at the foot of the table meet with Paremata-Plimmerton hosting Avalon. The home team will be keen to both put further distance between themselves and the pair below them and put out a much better defensive effort than the past two weeks, while the visitors will be looking to be simply much better than they have been in their past two outings. Pare-Plim have again reshuffled the deck with the notable change being erstwhile openside Caleb Nicholas starting in midfield, while Avalon are largely unchanged from last week with the inclusion of veteran Akuila Alatini on the bench.
Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy
The women’s club season concludes this weekend, with the early finish due the Pride campaign starting in a couple of weeks. The feature clash is undoubtedly the one at the Polo Ground, where Oriental-Rongotai and Norths meet to decide this year’s spoils. Having not even conceded a point on the field this year and on home turf, Ories will start as favourites and such is their depth of talent that Pride players Bernadette Robertson and Sinead Toala-Ryder can only find places on the bench. There’s plenty of positional match-ups to keep an eye on including props Janet Taumoli and Dora Laupola, locks Joanah Ngan-Woo and Sanita Levave, opensides Fai Auimatagi and Leah Conley, and first-fives Amanda Rasch and Vaine Carter. But perhaps the most interesting one is in midfield where Ories have chosen to deploy their most potent attacking weapon in Ayesha Leti-l’iga where she’ll be opposed by Dhys Faleafaga.
In the remaining matches Poneke will have one last go at breaking their duck when they travel across the road to take on Marist St Pats, Old Boys-University host Petone at Nairnville with both looking to finish in the top four, and Avalon and Paremata-Plimmerton meet at Fraser Park. Hutt Old Boys Marist have the last round bye.
Without a midweek match this week, it’s a full round of five matches tomorrow in the Premiership. Unbeaten pair Silverstream and Scots will look to keep it that way with the former heading north to Masterton and Wairarapa College and the latter hosting bottom side Mana. St Pats Town will look to keep pace when they head out to Porirua to face Aotea, with Rongotai looking to rebound when they visit Tawa who will be looking at them as a big name they could take down. The fifth match is back in the city when Wellington College host St Bernard’s in a mid-table clash, with both sides looking for valuable points.
In Premier 2 leaders Upper Hutt College host a local derby against third-placed Hutt International, with just down the road a matchup of unbeatens with the Silverstream 2nds hosting Kapiti. The Wellington College and St Pats Town 2nds meet at the College, and Paraparaumu are visited up the coast by Wainuiomata; Porirua have the bye.