- By Scott MacLean
Draws & Results HERE
EVENING EDITION: It’s the final round of the season, and after thirteen weeks the destination of the Swindale Shield will be found along with the fate of all fourteen teams for next week with a couple of encounters that are critical to that.
Congratulations to two players who will run out tomorrow for their 100th Premier outings. Oriental-Rongotai outside back Tuga Mativa becomes their latest centurion when they take on OBU, with his former teammate Ha’amea Ahio also reaching the mark when Johnsonville host the Upper Hutt Rams with his games spread across the Hawks (56), Ories (25, and MSP (19).
Premier Swindale Shield
How will it all fall?
As dawn breaks on the final round of the Swindale Shield any one of four teams – Marist St Pat’s, Norths, Old Boys-University, and Petone – could end up holding the Swindale Shield tomorrow night while a fifth – Tawa – looks to break into that top four for next week’s Jubilee Cup playoffs.
Marist St Pat’s (50 points) are in the box seat, holding a one-point lead in the standings and with only lowly Wellington (12) left to face. But they would have been stunned by almost fumbling away their advantage against Johnsonville last Saturday, and perhaps unsurprisingly – and despite their Lions contingent – have named a strong side looking to leave nothing to chance. Regular skipper Tom Martin is amongst those returning, while the King of Evans Bay – Fa’atonu Fili – makes his first Premier start of the year and his 220th match in all in the scarlet jersey.
The Axemen are holding onto 12th, which carries the promise of potentially two more games rather than a single game next week but will be looking over their shoulder at Johnsonville who are now just a point behind. Cam Roseingrave and Ben Kalin are amongst those back in this week’s side but they’ll be without Matt Goosen.
Should MSP stumble, then the first team off the rank to take advantage would be Norths (49) who go looking for their eleventh straight win when they host Petone (46) at Jerry Collins Stadium in the game of the round and with more at stake than just the Murray Henderson Trophy the pair will contest. To make absolutely certain of hosting a semi-final next weekend Norths need a bonus point win, while likely circumstances dictate that its win or bust for the Villagers. Even without their Lions contingent it’s still a very handy looking home team and they can bring back the likes of Gerard Faitotoa, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Kienan Higgins, and Jayden McCarthy who were all rested a week ago. Injuries to both Piri Paraone and Carne Green means that Tom Pere will run the cutter for Petone, while they get a boost of the bench with the return of Josh Southall alongside Matekai Kafatolu.
Also at stake is their Murray Henderson Shield, currently held by Norths. First played for in 2016, Henderson was amongst those that facilitated the merger of Norths’ predecessor clubs Porirua and Titahi Bay, a great friend of many Villagers, and his tireless work for community rugby saw him made a Life Member of the WRFU. They also have the Collins Medal – honouring late cousins Jerry and Willie – in play for the player of the match.
Also in with a shout are Old Boys-University (48) who would claim the Swindale should MSP lose and they finish tied with or ahead of Norths. But a loss to Oriental-Rongotai (31) at the Polo Ground would certainly scupper that, and perhaps even leave them on the outside depending on the goings-on at Porirua and Lyndhurst; and that’s without going into the impact of the bonus point they didn’t get when their match against Wellington was abandoned may have. There’s the interest in the return to Miramar of Malo Manuao and Alex Ropeti who left Ories in recent weeks and it seems likely they won’t get a warm welcome from their former teammates, Callum Harkin returns at fullback in place of Sam Reid while they’re without Jonathan Fuimaono.
The Magpies are destined for the Hardham Cup section after a year that hasn’t met their own expectations but would dearly like to take down one of this season’s leading sides before it’s all over and tomorrow is their last chance to do that. They too make a handful of changes with props Connor Lemon and Whetu Henry returning up front and Declan Hay replaces his brother behind the scrum where he’ll pair up with Grayson Whitman.
What makes wins imperative for Petone and OBU is that Tawa (44) have a rather contrasting assignment against 11th-placed Paremata-Plimmerton (13) at home at Lyndhurst Park where the expectation of most is that they’ll follow up their win against the Rams a week ago with another five points, but aside from that, their fate is beyond their own control. Their side is almost unchanged from a week ago with the return of Pepesana Patafilo on the left wing in place of Caleb Cavubati the only difference. Pare-Plim are more than likely looking ahead to next week and a 9th-12th playoff match, but are largely unchanged upfront with one veteran in Stu Simonsen replacing another in Teariki Kie Tonga with club entertainer Johnathan Sabo getting a run at fullback
Down in sixth, Hutt Old Boys Marist (41) make the short journey to Fraser Park neighbours Avalon (2) needing the equivalent of a sporting miracle to make the top four after their hopes were derailed at Maidstone Park three weeks ago. In reality their future lies in a Hardham Cup semi-final next weekend and they’ll be assured of hosting one of those at the Hutt Rec. Their Billy Herbert Memorial Trophy match – in memory of the former HOBM prop who moved to Avalon but suffered a heart attack on the eve of the season – is the last chance for Avalon to break their duck in the Swindale in what has turned into a wretched season for them. The Wolves are unchanged from last week which means that erstwhile lock Laman Ah Wong moonlights on the wing for another game, while HOBM make a couple in their pack including Willie Rua starting at hooker and Josh Brown on the flank, with Connor Collins at halfback their only backline change.
Completing the set of matches in a busy day in the eastern suburbs is what effectively amounts to a Hardham Cup quarter-final between Poneke (27) and Wainuiomata (29) at Kilbirnie Park. In play is not only their Hakaraia Trophy which honours both Paul Hakaraia, who was associated with both clubs, and his son Peter who died in a diving accident in 2007, but the result will determine whether they’re playing off for 5th, or dropping down into hosting a match in the 9th-12th bracket next weekend. Poneke are taking the opportunity to use the day for their Old Timers’ Day, which will include the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the late Fred ‘Frog’ Baker and wearing socks of Irish club Midleton to honour Cormac Ryan who played for Poneke in recent but tragically died back in his native Cork earlier this year.
The home team get returns from both Rhys Reiri and Jimmy-Lee Hongara with the latter starting at 10, and Andrew Jones who eases their hooking crisis though Greg Foe remains as the cover off the bench. Wainuiomata get back many of their first choice backs with TJ Va’a, Tyler Tane, Josh Roberston-Weepu, and – finally – Ruben Love all returning to their starting side.
Finally there’s the match at Helston where Johnsonville (11) host the Upper Hutt Rams (20). It’s effectively a dead-rubber for the Rams who can’t improve or lose their place on the table and will host one of those 9th-12th matches next week, but for the Hawks there’s the opportunity to leapfrog both Wellington and Paremata-Plimmerton into those matches and avoid a wooden-spoon clash with Avalon. They’ve stuck with almost the same XV that came so close to upsetting MSP last Saturday, with the change of the inclusion of Paula Kinikinilau in midfield. The Rams have made a number of changes after last week’s heavy loss to Tawa but get a couple of important cogs back in captain Aiden Woodward and utility back Josh Svenson who starts in midfield.
Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield
Irrespective of the outcome of tomorrows match, Norths (57) will be presented with the trophy for 2020 after their match with Petone; MSP (52) can catch them on points, but Norths hold the tiebreaker after winning back in the very first game of the season. MSP are assured of hosting the other semi-final, but after being defaulted to the past two weeks might just want to get on the field and stretch their legs so here’s hoping the bottom-placed Petone Brotherhood front. Petone Blue (45) just need a point for safety, but should they fail to get that then they’ll be at the mercy of the chasing pack, with OBU (41), Tawa (40), HOBM (40), and Poneke (39) all having claims they’ll want to push for the remaining two top four places. OBU have the toughest assignment on paper as they head to Polo to face Ories (37), while Tawa host Pare-Plim (16), HOBM are at Avalon (15), and Poneke host Wainuiomata (9). The seventh match is in the lower part of the table with Johnsonville (24) hosting Stokes Valley (13).
Its also the final round of matches in the Colts grade with the playing of the round skipped at the start of the current Covid restrictions, but only three will go ahead. The top four have already been found; with OBU Green (43) having already annexed the Paris Memorial Trophy and will host a semi-final, which could be a repeat of tomorrow’s match against Tawa (31) in the Ian Galloway cage. Norths Blue (35) will look to host the other as they meet Poneke (11) on the St Pats College turf, while Petone (32) will rest up after being defaulted to by the Upper Hutt Rams (19). The third match is a meeting of HOBM (26) and Norths White (26) at the Hutt Rec to decide top spot for the division two playoffs, with OBU Black (23) and Johnsonville (6) having this week off.
The lightweights reach their finals, which we previewed earlier in the week. In the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield decider the Upper Hutt Rams host Eastbourne at Maidstone Park at 2.45pm, with the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield final being played between eastern suburbs rivals Wellington and Marist St Pats at 12.45pm at the Axemen’s Hataitai Park.
The highlight clash in the Premiership is the meeting of unbeaten pair Silverstream and Scots in Upper Hutt. The winner will ensure that they book their place in the final in two weeks, while the loser will have to win next week to join them. Town are the only other side that can make the showpiece but need things to happen to be there and travel out to Porirua to face Mana. St Bernard’s and Rongotai will scrap over fourth place when they meet in Lower Hutt, Wellington College host Wairarapa (at 1pm), and Aotea will defend the Beard Trophy on home turf against Tawa.
The leaders meet in Premier 2 as well. Upper Hutt are already qualified for the final ahead of the bye next week, but face the Silverstream 2nds at home at 1pm; a Stream win guarantees they’ll be the other team in the final, but a loss might leave the door just wide enough for Hutt International who have the bye this week. The remaining matches are in matched pairs down the table; Porirua host the Town 2nds and Wainuiomata are at home to Kapiti, while the Wellington College 2nds have defaulted to Paraparaumu.
There’s also more finals in lower grades this weekend, as Covid restrictions mean that College Sport have abandoned the traditional finals day for 2019. In Division 3 of the Under 15 grade Bishop Viard host Hutt Valley HS and in the Under 65kg Division 2 its Paraparaumu against Scots; while its semi-finals in Premier 3, Premier 4, Under 15 Divisions 1 and 2, and the true lightweights of the Under 55kg grade.
Finally, the seasons for both the Lions and Pride get underway tomorrow with the Lions away to Waikato and the Pride across Cook Strait to face Tasman.
- Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Petone)
- Asafo Aumua (Avalon)
- Alex Fidow (Ories)
- James Blackwell (Petone)
- Naitoa Ah Kuoi (MSP)
- Vaea Fifita (Wellington)
- Du’plessis Kirifi (Norths)
- Ardie Savea (Ories)
- TJ Perenara (Norths)
- Jackson Garden-Bachop (Norths)
- Julian Savea (Ories)
- Vince Aso (Petone)
- Billy Proctor (MSP)
- Connor Garden-Bachop (Norths)
- Trent Renata (Tawa)
- Tyrone Thompson (MSP)
- Morgan Poi (OBU)
- Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe (Norths)
- Taine Plumtree (OBU)
- Teariki Ben-Nicholas (OBU)
- Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
- Aidan Morgan (MSP)
- Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata)
- Angel Uila (Petone)
- Precious Auimatagi (Ories)
- Janet Taumoli (Ories)
- Joanah Ngan-Woo (Ories)
- Jackie Patea-Fereti (Petone)
- Nina Foease (Norths)
- Sinead Toala-Ryder (Ories)
- Dhys Faleafaga (Norths)
- Acacia Claridge-Te Iwimate (Pare-Plim)
- Montana Heslop (OBU)
- Georgia Daals (OBU)
- Fa’asua Makisi (Ories)
- Monica Tagoai (MSP)
- Kolora Lomani (Norths)
- Thamsyn Newton (OBU)
- Alice Soper (Petone)
- Dora Laupola (Norths)
- Charlene Gubb (Ories)
- Emily Dalley (OBU)
- Rejieli Uluinayau (Ories)
- Tyler Bentley (HOBM)
- Marcelle Parkes (MSP)
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This weekend we also honour the life of Cormac Ryan, a beloved member of Poneke Rugby. Both our Premier & Premier Reserve sides will be honouring Cormac by wearing Midleton Rugby Football Club inspired socks during Saturday matches. Midleton was Cormacs Rugby Club in his hometown of Cork & we believe this is a fitting way for us to remember his life through rugby ❤️🖤