- By Steven White, Martyn Bridge, Scott MacLean and Adam Julian
Draws & Results HERE
For the first time this season Wellington club and college rugby was played in wet weather, making for a mostly tight round of matches throughout the region throughout the grades
At the top of the Swindale Shield, the Old Boys University Goats remain in the box seat to win the title with two rounds to play in the first round competition, while the Goats have also officially qualified for one of the top four places available for the upcoming Jubilee Cup.
But the Goats were made to work hard for their 11th straight win today at Maidstone Park, holding off the determined Upper Hutt Rams 22-19.
Securing a bonus point in defeat, the Rams kept their top eight chances alive for another week, with nearest rival Wainuiomata coming away with nothing from their home 20-32 Rona-Morrisey Cup loss to second placed Marist St Pat’s.
Amongst the top eight sides who are now jostling for all-important top four positions, Oriental-Rongotai, Hutt Old Boys Marist and Northern United were big winners today.
Ories have slotted into third on the standings behind OBU and MSP with a gritty last-gasp 15-13 win over Petone at home at the Polo Ground for the Jim Brown Memorial Trophy.
The HOBM Eagles are a point back in fourth after a perhaps predictable 45-3 bonus point win over competition strugglers Paremata-Plimmerton.
Tawa have fallen out of the top four with their second successive defeat, missing out 22-14 to Norths at Lyndhurst Park in their Sammy Saili Memorial Trophy match.
In two other matches today between already confirmed Hardham Cup teams, Poneke battled to a 11-5 win over the Johnsonville Hawks at Kilbirnie Park and the Wellington Axemen made it two wins on the trot by holding on to beat Avalon 18-5 in a desperate struggle at Fraser Park.
Around the Swindale Shield grounds, Norths beat Tawa 22-14 on the back of a superior forwards display and a tactical masterclass by TJ Perenera.
High kicks, grubbers, touch finders – Tawa was trapped in their own half most the game. Tries to first-five Perenara, halfback Campbell Woodmass and lock Faifili Levave had Norths 22-7 ahead at halftime.
Tawa openside flanker Weston Sao scored from a cross kick at 0-14, a rare moment of brilliance. Folau Vea scored a second half try for the home side from a rare foray inside the 22.
For Norths, Ethan Robinson Mate was outstanding 100th game and Tito Ioane toiled hard in his 100th game for Tawa.
At William Jones Park, visitors Marist St Pat’s and home team Wainuiomata exchanged early penalties and it was 3-3 inside 10 minutes.
MSP then went ahead with their first try, an attacking lineout and some pick and goes from the forwards leading to the try to busy No. 8 Keelan Whitman, converted by first five James Proctor for a 10-3 lead.
Halfback Jordan King slotted his second penalty, before MSP struck with their second try after 33 minutes. Left wing Ofa Siale the try-scorer, after fullback Andrew Wells fielded a clearing kick and linked with his winger in broken play.
MSP’s pack was climbing into its work and a penalty into the corner and a forwards drive set up their third try. Halfback Ken Kapeli came up with the try and Proctor kicked the conversion from the sideline to put MSP up 22-6 at halftime.
Wainuiomata needed to score first in the second half and they did so, earning a penalty in handy position and packing down a scrum on the MSP 22 and a few phases later halfback King scoring.
MSP built pressure through possession and when second five Isaia Petelo crashed over under the posts for their bonus point try and Proctor converted they now led 29-13.
Chasing the game, Wainuiomata pressed hard and MSP’s discipline went awry as two players were sent to the bin in quick succession. Wainuiomata duely scored their third try, to replacement Mike Iakopo to make it 29-20 with five minutes to play.
But MSP finished the game with another penalty too take a 32-20 win.
The boot of fullback Sam Reid was the difference in OBU’s win over the Rams at Maidstone Park.
OBU had earlier scored three tries, to prop Jonathan Fuimaono, second five Izzy Foai and Reid himself to lead 19-14 late in the game.
Rams replacement flanker Jack Wright then scored from a chargedown that levelled the scores at 19-19. Right wing Scott Svenson, who had earlier converted the tries of lock Taine Tata and flyhalf Tafa Tafa, could land the kick and scores stayed level. Reid landed a late penalty for the visiting Goats.
In the main game at Fraser Park, visitors Wellington triumphed 18-5 over the Avalon Wolves in grim conditions.
The match started in light drizzle and fair light, and ended amid heavy rain and near darkness.
It was the Axemen who made by far the better use of the comparatively benign, early conditions, settling into the game and keeping their error count to a minimum and winning the all-important breakdown battle.
The Axemen got ahead 6-0 with two penalties to first five Ben Stowe. Stowe could have kicked a third penalty from long range mid-way through the first half but this attempt sailed wide.
Five minutes later the Axemen went better by scoring their first try. From an attacking scrum on the 22, No. 8 Tuterangi Anderson peeled off the back of the scrum and found dynamic halfback Isaac Bracewell on his shoulder, and Bracewell scuttled 20 metres to score in the far corner to put the Axemen up 11-0.
Most of the rest of the first half was played between the 22s until just before the break the Axemen attacked the other corner through their forwards off a lineout drive. A player crossed the line but Avalon won a defensive penalty and went to the half time oranges with plenty to ponder.
With the rain settling in and the skies darkening, it was the Axemen who resumed the second half where they left off. They continued to dominate possession and territory, and they were finally rewarded with their second try after yet another penalty and lineout in the corner and a long, patient build-up for hard-working prop Tony Coburn to score under the posts and convert to extend their lead to 18-0.
The Wolves also lost a player to the bin for a reckless tackle in the air, and their chances were slipping away. However, with about 10 minutes to play, they finally gained some momentum and worked their way up field to almost score a try. As they had found themselves throughout most of the second half, the defensive team struggled to escape their end of the field.
The Axemen lost their lock Regan Pope to the sinbin and the home side finally capitalised and scored a try through his opposite Michael Va’a. Avalon had their tails up and went close to scoring a second try but they left their run far too late, and the Axemen were celebrating their second consecutive victory in the Swindale Shield.
At Kilbirnie Park, it was grimmer, with home side Poneke holding on tight to their 11-5 win over Johnsonville. Just two tries were scored, with Poneke scoring a try and kicking two penalties and Johnsonville’s sole score in the match being a try to replacement outside back Tu Greenland. Poneke led 5-0 at halftime.
At the Polo Ground, Ories led Petone 10-5 at halftime but Petone came back to lead 15-13 with time almost up and were penalised on their 22 right in front of the posts. Ories captain Peneli Poasa called a scrum and after a few phases, and under penalty advantage, a kick into the gym corner was fumbled by the Petone defender and replacement Ories wing Pose Tuliaepa – who had played in the Colts curtain-raiser – pounced for the winning try. The conversion was missed and that fulltime was sounded.
For Ories, left wing Jason Tuitama had scored their earlier try, while first-five Isalei Pouvalu kicked a conversion and penalty.
Northern United and Paremata-Plimmerton will host the two Women’s finals after today’s final round.
Norths prevailed 32-19 over Petone at the Rec in the only Division 1 Tia Paasi Memorial match of the day to set up yet another title decider against Oriental-Rongotai, who had the day off after HOBM defaulted to them earlier in the week.
Pare-Plim warmed up for the Division 2 Izzy Ford Cup final next week but were held to a 22-7 scoreline by Wainuiomata with wingers Sarah Bundy and Alumeci Nawaqatabu each scoring two tries. But who they’d play remained up for grabs with Poneke and OBU meeting at Kilbirnie Park each needing a win to make the final. In the end neither did; OBU took themselves out of the equation before kick-off by invoking the Game On rules, and the 12-all draw didn’t get Poneke the points they needed either. The upshot is that Avalon – who had the bye – will travel to Ngati Toa next week.
In Premier 2 Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup, leaders Tawa and Norths kept their unbeaten records this round, but only just after both being pushed to the brink today. Tawa edged winless Poneke 17-13 at Kilbirnie Park, while it was even closer at Nairnville with Norths just getting past OBU 20-19. It was clear cut in the other matches with the Upper Hutt Rams moving into third after beating Ories 41-12 and HOBM were the big winners of the day, dispatching MSP 62-8.
Petone Blue are the sole leaders of the Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial after they beat Johnsonville 45-31 in a high-scoring encounter that defied the days conditions at Helston Park. Wainuiomata dropped their first game of the round going down 17-19 away at Stokes Valley (see report below) but hold onto second. Norths White are third after beating Avalon 31-18, and Pare-Plim got their second win and kept Petone White winless with a 25-15 win.
After rain, junior matches this morning, and the U85kg game which preceded it, Delaney Park #1 was a quagmire by the time Stokes Valley and Wainuiomata took to it for the main match on the Rhinos’ Old Timers’ Day. The conditions however didn’t slow the intent of both sides, who opened like it was a dry track. Wainuiomata struck first through Wellington U19 squad member Zane Humphrey, but were answered by the home side through winger Jershon Tatana within the first 20 minutes before the game settled into an absorbing but lengthy period where both were unable to turn field position and opportunity into points.
The game burst into life on 65 minutes when Wainuiomata turned a half chance into a 70m breakout, only for the hosts to answer twice. Firstly, a monster 5m scrum saw No.8 George Crichton score a pushover, then first-five Jordan Smith scampered over to put Stokes up by 7. Wainuiomata were not done though with fullback Derek Lealifano scoring with a minute left, but agonisingly missed the conversion as he cramped up while taking it, and Stokes Valley were able to gain possession after the re-start and smuggle it into touch to end matters.
The Petone Colts have leapt to a clear lead at the head of the John E Kelly Cup standings after three rounds. Petone grabbed their third straight bonus point win to start the second round when they took down Ories 41-12 this afternoon.
Defending champions and first round winners Old Boys University Green suffered a 35-7 loss at the hands of HOBM Green in their match, with many of their players away for university holidays.
Tawa repeated their big win over MSP from the first round, beating them 47-14 in their match.
In the Division 2 Vic Calcinai competition, the Avalon Wolves made it three straight bonus points to start the second round with their 53-14 win over Poneke. The Upper Hutt Rams Colts had a 50-19 win over Wainuiomata while the Paremata-Plimmerton Colts beat the OBU Black team by default.
In the curtain raiser at Fraser Park, Avalon beat Poneke nine tries to two.
Poneke briefly threatened midway through the first half when they fielded a turnover in midfield and kicked behind Avalon’s defensive line, regathered and scored their second try, which put them up 14-12.
It was short-lived as Avalon struck back immediately with a try from their scrum set-up. They then ran in their bonus point try on halftime after a long build-up in Poneke’s 22. Avalon led 24-14 at the turnaround.
Avalon scored their fifth try early in the second half from another attacking scrum and passing through the backs, to make it 29-14. The Junior Wolves were now running rampant and they scored another four tries to finish the game, bringing up their half century of points with about five minutes to play. Poneke had a brief late opportunity for a consolation try, but their attacking lineout in the corner went astray and that was the end.
The opening weekend of the second round Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield yielded bonus point wins for Eastbourne, Avalon and Johnsonville, although the first round winners Eastbourne won their match by default against the Upper Hutt Rams.
On the field, Avalon beat Poneke 38-7, racing to an early lead and rarely threatened, while Johnsonville pumped Marist St Pat’s 39-6.
In the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield, the OBU Scallywags beat newcomers Stokes Valley 31-29 and the Wellington Light Axemen beat the HOBM Howlers 19-8. Wests had the bye.
Just the three matches today in the Premiership with handy wins for Scots and St Pat’s Town, and Rongotai getting back into the winner’s circle.
Scots assumed the sole lead in the competition after beating Hutt International 67-17, Town accounted for Mana 45-3, and Rongotai beat St Bernard’s 24-7. The other two matches were played on Wednesday, with Wellington College beating Silverstream 31-27 and Porirua edging Aotea 17-15.
In Premier 2 Upper Hutt and the Silverstream 2nds made emphatic statements. Upper Hutt blanked Naenae 54-0, while Stream beat previous fellow joint-leaders Bishop Viard 33-6. The Wellington College 2nds held their Town counterparts scoreless as well winning 17-0, Kapiti won the battle up the coast 18-12 over neighbours Paraparaumu, while Tawa defaulted to Wairarapa.
Two midweek games this coming Wednesday, with Rongotai hosting Silverstream in their annual Traditional, and Scots head to Taita for a Co-ed Cup clash.