Above: Both ends of the Polo Ground and the far side were flooded today, as torrential rain fell steadily throughout much of the game. Visitors Tawa beat Ories 19-14 in the Jubilee Cup knockout match. Earlier on the number two field, the Ories Vatos beat the Poneke Ruffnuts 38-10 to win the Division 1 Reserve Grade title.
- By Steven White, Scott MacLean and Adam Julian
The rain fell heavily in Wellington this afternoon.
Club Rugby resembled water polo at several venues, with torrential rain falling throughout the afternoon and making for a tough day of rugby.
It was the end of the line for six teams in Wellington Premier club rugby today, as the semi-finalists for the Premier Jubilee Cup and Premier tier two Hardham Cup competitions were found.
In the Jubilee Cup, today’s winners Northern United and Tawa will join already confirmed semi-finalists Marist St Pat’s and Hutt Old Boys Marist in next weekend’s semi-finals. Norths will play MSP and Tawa will play HOBM next weekend.
In Jubilee Cup results today, Norths beat Old Boys University 13-0 and Tawa beat Oriental-Rongotai 19-14.
In the Hardham Cup, next week’s semi-final match-ups will be between Petone and Johnsonville and Wainuomata and Poneke.
In Hardham Cup top eight quarter-final matches today, Petone beat Paremata-Plimmerton 16-0, Johnsonville tipped over the Upper Hutt Rams 20-15, Poneke beat the Wellington Axemen 17-0 and Wainuiomata defeated Avalon 38-5.
There were three finals played today, with OBU Green and Paremata-Plimmerton winning the respective Division 1 and Division 2 Colts finals. OBU Green beat Petone 25-21 in a Division 1 thriller and Pare-Plim beat the Upper Hutt Rams Colts 18-13. Both wins were achieved away from home.
There were no school rugby competition games played today, but St Bernard’s College hosted Auckland’s St Paul’s College. Score TBC.
In some round-the grounds summaries today, visitors Tawa earned their spot in next weekend’s Jubilee Cup semi finals with a comprehensive – given the conditions – 19-14 win over Ories at a flooded Polo Ground.
Given the absolutely appalling weather, Tawa’s 19-7 lead that they established 10 minutes into the second half proved ample to hold off the home side.
Tawa led 11-7 at halftime in pouring rain and an at times gusty crosswind. Early in the second half they won a big scrum penalty and halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara kicked his third penalty of the match to extend their lead to 14-7.
Not long after, Tawa got back down into the southeast corner and soon scored what would be the match-winning try when they won another big scrum penalty and hooker Lotu Nuku peeled off the subsequent lineout drive in the corner and scored to the right of the poles. Hemi Fermanis called for a snorkel at this point, but there none handy.
Proceedings were not going Ories’ way when the next restart failed to go 10 metres. Tawa forwards well and truly had their tails up and one more score and victory would likely be theirs.
The torrential rain eased at this point but conditions were extremely wet, and large sections of both sidelines and both ends of the field were now underwater.
Ories regrouped and threw everything at Tawa over the next 20 minutes, but the conditions simply were not conducive to their usual free-wheeling counterattacking play. It was not until the last 10 minutes that they were able to exert pressure on Tawa’s goal line, and they finally scored a try. However, that was the last play of the day as referee Mangin then blew full time.
Earlier, Ories made a fast start to the match but failed to capitalise on a couple of early opportunities. Instead, it was Tawa who seized on their first real chance of the game through openside flanker Weston Sao who scored a charge-down try from a lineout at the clubrooms end of the ground, far corner, to put them up 5-0.
Ories halfback Declan Hay missed a penalty, before his opposite Hauiti-Parapara slotted his first penalty, bringing the ball through the uprights on the wind to make it 8-0.
Ories made good with their second clear chance of the match, a kick into the in-goal forcing a 5-metre scrum and coming up with the try to close the gap to 8-7.
Right on half time, Hauiti-Parapara landed his second penalty and Tawa went into the sheds leading 11-7 at the break.
The win for Tawa was built on their strong forwards, with their lineout and scrum both winning the big moments of the match, despite losing starting lock Tito Ioane to what looked like a rib injury during the first half. His replacement Lipa Saveatama added bulk, while hooker Nuku and prop Sitiveni Paongo both had telling games for the victors.
The other Jubilee Cup knockout fixture saw Norths beat first round Swindale Shield winners OBU 13-0.
Norths led 5-0 at halftime. Left wing Reon Paul scored two tries and first-five Dale Sabbagh kicked a penalty.
Above: Norths left wing Reon Paul scores one of his two tries at Nairnville Park today. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.
Like Tawa, the Norths engine room found a bit extra today, their scrum shading OBU’s throughout the game. OBU also had several injuries, with Colts coach Tomasi Palu riding the pine and usual flanker Cody Quinn playing centre.
It is the third consecutive year that the Swindale champion has failed to make the Jubilee Cup final.
At Maidstone Park, the Johnsonville Hawks knocked over the home side the Upper Hutt Rams in a tight win.
In a game of two halves, Johnsonville led 20-0 at halftime, with three tries to right wing Aukuso Tuitama, blindside flanker Serge Hollis and tighthead prop Teveta Falakalala.
The Hawks held the Rams off until midway through the second half, before they came back to score three unconverted tries. But they weren’t enough and Johnsonville held on to win.
At William Jones Park, Wainuiomata went comparatively balmy, scoring six tries in their 38-5 win over the Avalon Wolves.
Centre Peter Umaga-Jensen scored a hat-trick of tries, his first coming inside 10 minutes when he followed up a kick.
Wainuiomata continued to dominate territory, and were in again just after the half hour mark when right wing Niko Paletesio made a storming run after a lineout, play was recycled and fullback Campbell Cowie crossed the whitewash.
Three minutes before halftime, Umaga-Jensen scored his second try by punching through from close range from attacking scrum.
The Wolves went close to scoring just before the interval but were held out and the home side led 21-0 at halftime.
There was no further scoring until midway through the second half when Umaga-Jensen completed his hat-trick. Inside the final 10 minutes, and left wing Isaiah Mamea scored the next try.
Avalon finally scored just before fulltime through No. 8 Pena Sione-Leota who made a break from the back of a scrum. But the green and black side had the final say with lock Blade Rapira scoring right at the end.
At Kilbirnie Park, Poneke held out the Wellington Axemen to win 17-0.
Poneke opened their scoring with their first try to loosehead prop Hennie Tui, converted by first-five Pakai Turia.
Left wing Isaac Moe Jenkins scored their second try, again converted by Turia, who added a penalty as well.
Colts Division 1 final
Where to start? Perhaps the end, because it took a tidal wave of rain, hail, mud, wind, attrition and emotion to decide the winner of the John E Kelly Memorial Trophy. Not to mention the extra 20 minutes.
Again, it’s Old Boys University celebrating Colts success, Petone denied a meteoric victory 25-21.
John Eales always said the best test he played was one he lost -the Sydney 2000 blockbuster where Jonah Lomu scored in the last minute.
It is unlikely many of the young warriors who battled so gallantly today will ever play matches more tough and dramatic, win, lose or draw.
Today was so much more than winners and losers, talent and nous. It was a triumph of heart, desire, and friendship. A spectacle only those with genuine integrity for the spirit of the game could possibly produce.
The last of five lead changes occurred 15 minutes into extra time, and with Petone leading 21-18. OBU won a scrum five metres out from the line. Initially the students buckled, skidding rapidly into retreat. Somehow they swiftly reground, cradling the ball in tight and low to the ground speared through Petone like an unstoppable submarine to take the lead 23-21. The try was claimed by replacement Soane Fakahau and the conversion added by fullback Tomasi Connor.
Petone railed, as they often did, left, right, fast hands, rumbling runs, blissfully ignorant of the horrid conditions. An appeal for a try. Held up was the call and the students clung on for a fourth consecutive title. Since 2014 the Kid Goats have won 104 of 120 games.
Connor kicked a penalty to open the scoring which was responded to by Petone halfback Rory Woollett.
The middle of the field was treacherous terrain, attempts to leave often futile. Gradually Petone claimed the ascendency and wing Hamish Fraser, with the pencil moustache, autographed the scorebook.
Connor’s second penalty closed the deficit to 8-6 at halftime.
OBU halfback James Cole had a profound impact and his decision to run early in the second half caught Petone napping twice. A break from halfway to the 22 was monumental, the less dramatic snipe for a try more telling.
The northerly was well navigated by first-five Sergio Schuler. The OBU reserves added zest and a second try with 15 minutes left made it 18-8 which seemed to spell curtains for Petone.
The opposite was true. Props Julius Masoe and Tali Sina became a wrecking crew. No.8 Luke Mannix was relentless and his blindside colleague Kitiona Leitufia sturdy, dynamic.
A try in the left corner to wing Richard Evans closed it to 18-13. A few minutes later Petone charged into the 22 again and centre Jakib Tainui dashed clear and over in the corner. A young man ravaged by injury (and lucky to be playing) with an exorcism mid-flight.
Woollett’s kick hung, it wobbled, it dropped under the bar by a nostril hair.
Woollett would have the first say in extra time, but the kids had the cruel last laugh. At the forefront of their industry was captain and blindside Dan Livingston who won a bundle of lineouts and tackled himself to a standstill. Lock Oskar Lynch was busy and brutal and openside Harry Bampton, a feverish pest.
The only pity was the field. A final of that stature deserved number one status and real-sized sticks. The referee was Ollie Michie assisted by Malcolm Gibbs and James Malcolm. Michie, visibly shivering, suffers diabetes. God knows what that did for the blood/sugar!
Reserve Grade Division 1 final
The Oriental Rongotai Vatos completed an unbeaten season by beating the Poneke Ruffnuts 38-10 in the final of the Reserve Grade Division 1 John Davies Cup final.
The match was transferred to Polo No. 2 and was played in steady, driving rain throughout. That failed to stop Ories from chancing their arm from deep inside their own territory and scoring four long-range converted tries in the first half to take a 28-0 lead into half time. playing into the wind.
With the conditions in their favour, Ories scored an early second half try off an attacking lineout and it was game over at this point. However, the gallant and worthy finalists Poneke didn’t lie down and played with much heart throughout the rest of the final.
Poneke scored a well deserved try to close the margin to 33-5. Heading into the final 10 minutes, Ories scored their sixth try of the match, but Poneke had the last say by scoring a well deserved consolation try out wide on full time.
Professor Emeritus John Davies himself was on hand to present the trophy bearing his name to the Vatos who have completed their 2021 season holding that trophy and the Mike Copeland Cup from the first round.
All four home sides moved on in the Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup. Top seeds Tawa maintained their unbeaten record, getting past Poneke 30-13 and Norths Blue were made to work hard by a gallant Ories before winning 22-18 (see report below). The Upper Hutt Rams prevailed over OBU 22-12 after that game was moved to Trentham Memorial Park, while HOBM were the days biggest winners, 25-5 over MSP.
Next week’s semi-finals will see Tawa host Upper Hutt, and HOBM will travel to face Norths.
In the Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial just two matches ended up being played. Wainuiomata ensured that they will be top qualifiers ahead of having the bye next week after beating Petone White 31-14, while on the Fraser Park turf Johnsonville beat Avalon 22-7. Both Petone Blue and Stokes Valley took the maximum five points without venturing into the weather after Pare-Plim and Wellington were unable to front.
At least Norths and Ories had the benefit of one of the regions best surfaces despite the appalling conditions at Jerry Collins Stadium. The home team had the advantage of the elements in the first half, but struggled to break down a resolute Ories defence, and it took 25 minutes before they finally broke through through Tia Vaalepu, but despite spending most of the time pinned in their own half Ories drew level when they profited from a mixup at the back.
Turning into the wind and lashing rain Norths forwards muscled up, and drove over after holding onto the ball for a full 8 minutes, and followed up with another from close range. Ories responded each time with a penalty, but a superb lineout drive by Norths for their fourth try seemed to have ended matters, but Jonty Bird – playing despite the passing of his mother yesterday – crashed over to close the margin once more. Ories had one last chance starting 15m out from their own line, but after four minutes of added time Norths won a penalty to end matters.
The Under 85s head into their finals after the conclusion of the round-robin in both divisions today. Avalon head the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield after they beat MSP 40-5, and they will host the defending champion Upper Hutt Rams who lost 7-24 to Johnsonville. That result kept the Hawks ahead of Eastbourne, who beat Poneke 20-5, so they’ll host the other semi-final next week against the first-round winners.
The OBU Scallywags topped the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield standings after they beat the Wests Roosters 27-0, while Wellington headed off Stokes Valley by 19-0. The upshot is that OBU will take on HOBM next week, while its a repeat meeting for Wellington and Stokes Valley.