Above: MSP outside backs Sagele Aukusitino and Andrew Wells and MSP are hoping to take down OBU in one Jubilee Cup semi-final tomorrow, while the Wellington Axemen have beaten the Avalon Wolves by default in their wooden spoon playoff match. PHOTO: Tom Minton.
- By Scott MacLean
Updated: So after a season that has been anything but, there’s a sense of normality about playoff rugby this weekend. The pressure will be as intense as ever, and there’s no coming back next week. Premier, Premier Reserve, and Colts all reach that point, with the Reserve Grade winding up tomorrow.
One major player milestone tomorrow, with Samoan 7’s legend Uale Mai set to play his 100th match for Wainuiomata when he comes off the bench in their match against Tawa. Club Rugby congratulates Uale on another accomplishment in a stellar career.
Premier Jubilee Cup
Two mouthwatering Jubilee Cup semi-finals headline tomorrows slate.
Old foes clash at Evans Bay, with newly-minted Swindale Shield winners Marist St Pat’s taking on city rivals Old Boys-University, with each looking to get back to the Petone Rec next weekend on a happier footing than last year when having failed to make the Jubilee Cup entirely they contested the Hardham final where MSP prevailed; just as they did when MSP edged a 22-18 result at the same venue around the midpoint of this campaign.
Having comfortably beaten Pare-Plim and Wellington either side of the near-almighty hiccup against Johnsonville, MSP are restored to as near full strength as they could be. They retain the same tight-five as started against the Axemen, with Josh To’omaga and Keelan Whitman getting the nod in the loose trio, while their backline benefits from the returns of Aidan Morgan (from his Lions debut) and James Proctor and the bench will offer considerable impact with James Tuia, Tom Horan, Pago Haini, and Ryan Setefano all residing there. OBU get some handy additions with the Old Firm of Finnbarr Kerr-Newell and Jonathan Fuimaono reunited up front, plus they get back Taine Plumtree (also from his Lions debut) and Sam Reid, with Kyle Preston and the large frame of Izzy Foai also in their starting backline, but are without the trio of Caleb Delany, James Poloniati, and Shamus Hurley-Langton.
Heading into last weekend if you’d have offered Petone just a place in the top four they’d have bitten your hand off let alone getting to host a semi-final, but that’s what transpired after they toppled Norths 21-10 and OBU lost at Ories, so the possibility looms that the Villagers could get to play for the Jubilee Cup on their home ground next weekend. But to do that they’ll need to get past Norths who will eagerly want to reverse that result from last Saturday and be in position to defend their crown next week.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Petone make just a single personnel change to the side that won last weekend with Jarrod Adams returning after a family bereavement. He comes into midfield alongside Willie Tufui with Willie Fine moving to the wing, Tom Carter to the bench, and Mason Henry dropping out of the 22. Loose forwards Mateaki Kafatolu and Josh Southall provided impact from the pine last Saturday and will be looked on to do it again. Norths haven’t panicked about that result and have few changes with Jerome Va’ai and Johnny Teleaga returning from their regulars with the addition of Lions squad members Connor Garden-Bachop and Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe, and livewire Esi Komaisavai who takes a place on the bench. The battle between arguably the two form halfbacks in Petone’s Logan Henry and Norths’ Campbell Woodmass will be well worth watching.
Vastly experienced duo Daniel Mangin and Nick Hogan will referee the two matches. Mangin has the MSP vs OBU match which will be his 83rd Premier game, while the Petone vs Norths clash will be Hogan’s 94th.
Premier Hardham Cup
The pair of Hardham Cup matches are a wind back to the much-delayed opening round of the season as tomorrows games replicate those two meetings, albeit at the other teams venue with Tawa hosting Wainuiomata at Lyndhurst, and Hutt Old Boys Marist welcoming Oriental-Rongotai to the Hutt Rec.
Tawa were the side that missed out on the top four and will have to put that disappointment behind them and look to replicate their emphatic 31-3 win over Wainuiomata from three months ago. Their side tomorrow contains a number of changes to that which beat Pare-Plim last week with Lions halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara being made available for them but lose wingers Pepesana Patafilo and Romu Senileba, replaced by Maui Wallace and Caleb Cavubati. Wainuiomata’s season hasn’t exactly gone as they hoped but did prevail in a must-win last week away over Poneke and will look to repeat that tomorrow. They have a settled lineup, though Ruben Love pushes up into first-five in the absence of TJ Va’a allowing Josh Robertson-Weepu to move back to fullback.
HOBM and Ories meet in the reverse of their week one fixture, won 11-3 by the Eagles on a very soft Polo Ground. Underfoot conditions tomorrow at the Hutt Rec should be much different and hopefully lead to an entertaining clash. HOBM bring back some players rested last weekend against Avalon including Rei Manaia and Glen Walters with Waylon Tuhoro-Robinson stepping in for Connor Collins and Fereti Soloa getting the call on the wing ahead of both Fritz Rayasi and Blake McGregor. Ories make just one change in the pack with Ronaldo Seumanufagai replacing John Tuia, with brother Herman at the centre of a backline reshuffle that includes Isalei Pouvalu starting at 10 with Grayson Whitman moving out one place.
The pair of Jamie Fairmaid and Colin Te Pohe are the referees. The HOBM vs Ories game is Fairmaid’s 62nd Premier match, with Tawa and Wainuiomata being Te Pohe’s 53rd time in the middle.
Premier playoff matches
The remaining two matches are the playoffs for places 9th to 12th, with Poneke taking on Paremata-Plimmerton at Kilbirnie, and the Upper Hutt Rams back on home turf at Maidstone to face Johnsonville with three of the teams coming off losses last weekend.
The team that isn’t is Johnsonville, with Roy Kinikinilau’s Hawks having found their form at the back end of the season and will be keen to repeat last weekends 53-24 win over the Rams, while the home side will be looking to atone in a big way. Just seven Rams that started that game however will do so tomorrow as they return to something akin to a first-choice lineup, and while we don’t have the Hawks’ it would be hard to imagine that there are many from their successful team from last week.
Poneke will be looking to rebound from the disappointment of missing the Hardham playoffs with their loss to Wainuiomata, while Pare-Plim come off a stretch of having played three of the Jubilee semi-finalists and Tawa and have probably been targeting this game for some time. The home team have reunited veterans Galu Taufale and Greg Foe in the loose trio where this week they’re joined by Conor Strang, with Pare-Plim getting timely returns from utility backs Kayden Muller and Jordan Clark
There was one further match scheduled with Wellington to take on Avalon, however the Wolves have pulled out of this leading to its cancellation.
The Ed Chaney Cup is the prize for the top four, with Norths the top qualifier and they’ll host Petone at Porirua Park in a repeat of last weekends match which saw them complete an unbeaten Harper Lock Shield campaign with a 39-10 win and will be strong favourites to go through an defend this title next weekend.
The second match is an all-Marist affair with MSP and HOBM clashing on neutral turf at Hataitai Park. MSP’s only defeat came in the opening round to Norths and won the matchup between these two 19-10 earlier in the year. HOBM’s big win over Avalon last Saturday saw them vault into third after both Petone and OBU lost, and with almost no expectations will be a difficult opponent.
The two match referees are Ethan Loveridge and the long-serving John Ballingall respectively.
In the HD Morgan Memorial playoffs Tawa host OBU at Lyndhurst with both sides looking to put their disappointments – off- and on-field respectively – from last Saturday behind them while across town there’s the local derby between Poneke and Oriental-Rongotai at Kilbirnie. In their earlier meetings OBU got up over Tawa 32-30 at Lyndhurst, while Poneke beat Ories 23-7. New arrivals to Wellington Tim Johnston and Zarne Johnson are the referees for the respective matches.
The matches for the 9th-12th bracket have Johnsonville hosting Avalon at Helston looking to repeat their 29-24 win from three weeks ago, and Stokes Valley will be on home turf at Delaney Park as they look to reverse their first-up 8-20 loss back in June against Pare-Plim. Wainuiomata and the Petone Brotherhood meet in the 13th v 14th clash – which was a 22-all draw when they met in the regular season.
It’ll be a case of deja vu for Paris Memorial winners OBU Green and Tawa, who a week after meeting in the final round at Ian Galloway and with a 12.45pm kickoff (won 27-25 by OBU) will go at it again in the John E Kelly Memorial playoffs. The second semi-final is between Norths Blue and Petone on the #2 field at Porirua Park with both teams full of players who were prominent in the 1st XV competition in recent years, and the home team will be looking to emulate the 36-24 result from just three weeks ago.
Natarsha Ganley – who refereed the Farah Palmer Cup final in 2017 – and the experienced Scott MacLean (your correspondent) are the two referees.
In the Vic Calcinai Division 2 playoffs HOBM will host valley neighbours the Upper Hutt Rams at the Hutt Rec in one semi-final, while Norths White also earned themselves a home match where they’ll take on OBU Black. The remaining two Colts teams – bottom pair Poneke and Johnsonville – were due to play for the Eric Connolly Cup but has been cancelled by mutual agreement.
In terms of next Sunday’s final there’s nothing left to be determined in the final round of matches in the Premiership as the bonus point Scots got from that 5-7 loss to Silverstream last Saturday ensured that they’ll square off in the decider and they’ll warm up for that home matches; Stream take on 9th placed Tawa and Scots host midtable St Bernard’s. Mana head over to Masterton to face Wairarapa College, Wellington College head out to Aotea, with the match of the round that between St Pats Town and Rongotai which will decide who finishes third this year.
In Premier 2 Upper Hutt College locked in their place in next weekend’s final with their 35-15 win over the Silverstream 2nds and get to rest up with the final round bye. Silverstream are their likely opponents, but they must beat Paraparaumu at home otherwise Hutt International – who are away to Kapiti – could overhaul them. The Town 2nds and Wainuiomata finish up their season at the Polo Ground, while injuries have forced the Wellington College 2nds to default to Porirua.
Elsewhere, five more pieces of silverware will be handed out around the region. The Paul Cameron Cup for the Premier 3 title is being played for out in Strathmore with the Scots 2nd XV taking on Naenae (12pm), while the Premier 4 clash for the Onslow Cup is in Lower Hutt with the St Bernard’s 2nds facing their Tawa counterparts (1pm). The flagship Under 15 Division 1 title and the Father Gus Hill Cup is the prize for Silverstream and Wellington College when they meet in a repeat of last year’s final, with the Ross Findlay Cup at stake in the U15 Division 2 decider between Paraparaumu and Scots (both at 10am). And lastly, the David Scott Cup will be presented to the winners of the Under 55kg final between Hutt International and Paraparaumu who take to the middle of Trentham racecourse at 10am.
After contrasting results last Saturday, both the Pride and Lions will be looking to be on the right side of the ledger this time out. The Pride have their first home game of their short campaign when they take on Hawkes Bay tomorrow at the Hutt Rec at 12.30, while the Lions are back in the upper North Island again facing Auckland at Eden Park in the final match of the Mitre 10 Cup round.
- 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)
- Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata)
- Wes Goosen (OBU) – 50thgame
- Billy Proctor (MSP)
- Tyrone Thompson (MSP)
- Morgan Poi (OBU)
- Ben Aumua-Peseta (Tawa) – debut
- Caleb Delany (OBU) – debut
- Teariki Ben-Nicholas (OBU)
- Connor Collins (HOBM)
- Trent Renata (Tawa)
- Pepesana Patafilo (Tawa)
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Jubilee Cup semi-finals flashback #2 2016 and 2017, with some footage of @tawarugby1 beating Wainuiomata 16-10 and then a year later @oldboysuniversityrugby Goat side putting in a swashbuckling 50-22 win over Tawa. Both sides went on to win the Jubilee Cup title the following week. ? At the Tawa game by Tawa TV. This Saturday's Jubilee Cup semis see MSP (1) hosting OBU (4) at Evans Bay Park at 3pm and Petone (2) and Norths (3) playing at the Rec at 2.45pm. #clubrugby #communityrugby #jubileecup