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Finals Day club rugby titles for Tawa, Poneke, OBU and Avalon

  • By Steven White, Adam Julian and Scott MacLean / Photos by Andy McArthur & Caroline Lewis.

Tawa are the 2021 Jubilee Cup champions.

Tawa won their third Jubilee Cup title and first since 2016 with an emphatic 36-7- win over Marist St Pat’s in the final at a sun-drenched Hutt Recreation Ground this afternoon.

Poneke won the Hardham Cup. They beat Petone 32-24 in extra time, after scores were level at 24-24 at the end of 80 minutes

Tawa won two titles on the day, their second XV annexing the Premier 2 Ed Chaney Cup by beating Hutt Old Boys Marist’s second side 46-25.

In the two U85kg finals, the Avalon Wolves beat Johnsonville 16-3 in the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield and the OBU Scallywags defeated the Wellington Axemen 31-12 in the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield.

Away from the spotlight of the Hutt Rec, the second-tier of the Premier 2 grade were in quarter-final action as they seek the HD Morgan Memorial Trophy. Three of the four matches went with seeding; top qualifiers Wainuiomata beat Petone White 41-20, Stokes Valley racked up the points and style against Pare-Plim winning 60-27, and Norths White edged Johnsonville 27-22. The other result was something of a boilover, with seventh-seed Avalon toppling Petone Blue 39-25.

That sets up next weekend’s semi-finals, which should have Wainuiomata at home against Norths White, and another central Hutt derby between Stokes Valley and Avalon.

Accounts of the Jubilee Cup, Hardham Cup and both U85kg finals follow below.

Jubilee Cup Final: Tawa (36) v Marist St Pat’s (7)

This was the most one-sided Jubilee Cup final in recent years.

Tawa outplayed MSP across the park, bringing a hungry set-piece, a superior kicking game and committed defence to the final.

Tawa led 18-0 at halftime and went on to win the final four tries to one. They also crossed the line twice more in the second half for disallowed tries.

Outstanding halfback general Kemara Hauiti-Parapara feasted. As well as directing play with his passing and educated boot, he scored two tries and kicked two conversions and four penalties for a personal haul of 26 points.

In a dominant team effort, other players to have strong finals included captain and prop Sitiveni Paongo, lock Hemi Fermanis, openside flanker Weston Sao and hard-running second five Lua Luamua.

Fermanis won the Jim Brown Plate for Player of the Final.

The Jubilee Cup started late owing to the Hardham Cup final going to extra time, while play would be held up for several minutes late in the first half with an injury in a tackle to MSP No. 8 Ryan Dafel.

Playing with a breeze at their backs in the first half, Tawa made a rollicking start to the final, scoring two tries and kicking a penalty to take a 15-0 lead after almost as many minutes.

Tawa’s hungry forwards climbed into their work early and they very nearly scored through Paongo in the opening minutes with their first penalty of the game and an attacking lineout in the corner.

MSP held this off, but Tawa repeated their tactics on the far side of the field with another penalty and lineout drive. There were several waves of pick and goes before No. 8 Folau Vea was awarded the try. Halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara added the extras and Tawa went ahead 7-0.

Tawa’s first try of the Jubilee Cup final.

MSP raided Tawa’s 22, but Tawa held them off. Soon after, Tawa scored what was probably the try of the final when first five Luke Cummings popped a kick over the top of MSP’s rushing defence in midfield, which was reeled in on the fly by right wing Elijah Fonoti. The wing found second five Lualua in support on his shoulder, who in turn found halfback Hauiti-Parapara who scored in the grandstand corner.

A Hauiti-Parapara up and under from the base of a scrum was contested in the air by right wing Fonoti. He offloaded to lock Fermanis who carried play up towards the line. The forwards picked and drove again and came up short but the penalty went their way and Hauiti-Parapara made no mistake with his boot to extend the lead to 15-0.

MSP spent the next 10 minutes of the final hot on attack inside Tawa’s 22, both props Meinrad Fitisemanu and Tui Tuia featuring prominently with several carries each.

Once more Tawa held them out and play ebbed up back towards halfway. No. 8 Dafel went down injured in open play with what looked like a broken ankle and play was held up for several minutes.

Tawa continued to be dangerous on attack and went twice more to almost scoring, giving away penalties hot on attack both times. This period of play for them finally went rewarded with a penalty from a scrum and Hauiti-Parapara kicked his second penalty to put them up 18-0.

MSP were desperate to score before halftime, but two minutes of phase play inside Tawa’s 22 came to nothing and MSP went into halftime scoreless.

Things went from bad to worse early in the second half when MSP blindside flanker Josh Too’maga was yellow carded for a high tackle on a Tawa player in front of his posts.

Hauiti-Parapara threw the penalty over and at 0-21, it was seemingly a long way for MSP to come back.

Tawa went close to scoring another try, but for a foot in touch. It didn’t matter though as Tawa scored the try moments later that effectively won the final – and fittingly to Hauiti-Parapara who backed up centre Elijah Va’a-Brooking and crashed over. His conversion put them up 28-0.

Hauiti-Parapara scores his second try.

MSP made changes off the bench, and with nothing to lose, threw themselves at Tawa over several minutes. Finally, first five James Proctor scored their first try and converted it himself to cut Tawa’s lead to 28-7 after 62 minutes.

Hopes of a comeback were all but dashed in the 67th minute when first five Luke Cummings ran on to a kick and chase and set up a second try that wasn’t, this time to flanker Weston Sao. Tawa’s consolation was another penalty in front of the poles to Hauiti-Parapara and at 31-7 up Tawa were going to be hard to beat from here.

The icing on the cake came three minutes before fulltime when replacement lock Lipa Saveatama ran through to score in support of openside flanker Weston Sao and Paongo up the grandstand touchline.

Poneke (32) v Petone (24)

Poneke winners on fulltime

It took extra time, but Poneke are the Hardham Cup champions defeating Petone 32-24 in extra time. Poneke ended 2021 with a seventh consecutive victory to capture the Hardham Cup for a sixth time.

With time up in regulation Petone failed to clear the ball into touch. Poneke built phases, advanced ahead, and eventually reserve forward James Mose muscled over beside the posts to make it 24-22. The conversion was kicked by first-five Pakai Turia and the game was extended for 20 minutes.

Pakai Turia contests the ball for Poneke.

In the additional period. Extra Time here, play continued to be as tight as it has been for first 80 minutes, before Poneke eventually hit a penalty to go up 27-24 and then scored the match-winner with a couple of minutes to play in the far left corner of play.

Earlier, Poneke should never have been down 13-9 at halftime, or close to the end, given the possession and territorial dominance they enjoyed. Turia had four penalty shots, converting three as Poneke went ahead 9-0. It could have been more had second-five Jimmy Hewitt not being held up over the line and wing Isaac Moe-Jenkins denied by Cam Ferreira hustle.

Petone lock Jack Ross and centre Riley Higgins were central in the Villagers resurgence. Ross, having earlier broken, powered over for a try and then Higgins won a turnover which resulted in a Ben Brooking penalty and scored on the halftime hooter chasing down a kick over 30-metres.

Riley Higgins running hard for Petone.

Turia found his range early in the second-spell before a first Poneke try to fullback Nick Robertson try saw them reclaim the lead 17-12.

A Brooking penalty cut the margin to one and then Higgins showed his class, wading through near the Poneke 22, and linking with replacement Calelym Box who touched down out wide.   The conversion from the sideline by Brooking seemed to be a dagger through the heart, but Poneke refused to yield and finished with a wet sail.

Substitute prop Hennie Tui played a blinder, openside Hauwai McGahan and Hewitt were everywhere while Turia was accurate and creative, ending with a 17-point haul. Petone won the Hardham Cup in 2018 but lost the 2016 decider at the Hutt Rec against Hutt Old Boys Marist.

Avalon U85kg (16) v Johnsonville (3)

A dogged defensive display earned Avalon their victory over Johnsonville in the Paul Potiki U85kg final.

Avalon started in this grade in 2013 and have won the title in 2019 and 2021. A feature of their play was defence. They won 15 out of 16 games this year and didn’t concede a try in seven games – including all three victories against Johnsonville.

Johnsonville had plenty of possession, a lineout drive of zest, and no lack of heart, but couldn’t break down Avalon.

Johnsonville opened the scoring with a penalty to centre Zyrus Grace whose booming left boot was narrowly off range with three other attempts.

Avalon responded courtesy of experienced first-five Manu Oliver who scored the only try of the match. From a lineout drive inside the Johnsonville 22, Oliver received the ball at pace, dummied both ways, and sailed through. The conversion made it 10-3, the halftime score.

Johnsonville fullback Jacob Wamlsey was a genuine threat with his elusive running, but errors in promising positions let Johnsonville down. It took 22 minutes for points in the second-half. Avalon fullback Paihere Brown landed a 35-metre penalty to make it 13-3. Brown grew in stature and a sizzling break, chip, chase and regather over the line was almost the moment of the season, Brown just bobbled the ball over the whitewash. His anguish was short-lived, another penalty secured victory for Avalon.

Johnsonville bested first-round winners Eastbourne and defending champions Upper Hutt to reach the final. Lock Tom Jamieson was outstanding, especially in the lineouts, while flankers Sam Gifkins and Brett Taefu played their hearts out.

Sadly, Avalon skipper Bill Drummond left the field in the second-half, but his industry was courageous. Lock Graham Cherry took over the captaincy and was all brawn and brains. Scott Waldom might be fitter than he’s ever been and with the support of openside Matthew Edmonds, Avalon was a tough nut to crack. In the backs Oliver controlled things nicely and there was no way through Robert Daly.

OBU Scallywags 31 – Wellington Axemen 12

The OBU Scallywags with the Tony O’Brien Shield.

Greater second half composure by the OBU Scallywags paved the way for their U85kg Division 2 31-12 win over the Wellington Axemen in the first final on Hutt Rec 2.

OBU scored three tries, one in the first half and two in the second, and the rest of the scoring by both teams was made up by penalties.

The game started in a tense and willing fashion. The Axemen were the first to settle, early scrum dominance and territory and two penalties to first-five Cameron Ragg giving them a 6-0 lead towards the end of the first quarter.

OBU worked their way into the game and were rewarded with their first points, a 25th minute penalty to first five Nic Mannix. Mannix kicked a second penalty soon after, to lock it up at 6-6.

Wellington regained the lead with a penalty straight after. Just before half time OBU struck with their first try. First five Mannix took a quick tap penalty and carried play up into the 22, OBU’s forwards kicked and drove before feeding the backs and centre Regan Barry scored the try. OBU led 13-9 at halftime.

The battle continued early in the second half. OBU went close to scoring a try but were held up. The Axemen regained territory and kicked their fourth penalty to close the gap to 13-12 after 50 minutes.

However, errors exacerbated for the Axemen, including five consecutive lineout errors on their own throw and a couple of key handling errors that stymied any momentum they could gain.

Mannix kicked two more penalties to extend OBU’s lead to 19-12, while Ragg missed his first penalty shot in this time as well.

With several minutes still to play, OBU went close to scoring but knocked on in the corner. A subsequent attacking scrum went rewarded when the forwards had a concerted crack at the line and spun it out to centre Regan Barry who scored his second and match winning try.

OBU added the icing on the cake with a couple of minutes to play when Simon Loveridge scored to make the final score 31-12.

Tony O’Brien was on hand at the end of the final to present the shield in his name.

College

The top four in the College Premiership have been found with a week to play after the conclusion of the eighth round of matches today. Hutt International were the only side that could force their way in, but the door was shut on them in emphatic fashion by Wellington College who beat them 45-0 today (see report below). The other two matches today had bearing on the bottom half of the standings with Rongotai beating Mana 28-14, and Aotea tripled their competition tally but remain winless after going down 31-27 to St Bernard’s. Earlier in the week Silverstream beat Town 18-12, and Scots were much too good for Porirua winning 90-12.

In Premier 2 the top five teams all won against sides in the bottom half. Leaders Upper Hutt crushed the Town 2nds 73-3, while Silverstream were bigger winners over Naenae 81-7. Wairarapa beat Kapiti 29-12, Bishop Viard overturned the qualifying result against Paraparaumu 35-11, and Wellington College snuffed out Tawa’s playoff hopes with a 33-15 win.

In Premier 3 Taita will host Hutt Valley in next weeks final. After HVHS were defaulted to by the Scots 2nds yesterday Wainuiomata needed to win, but finished 22-all with Taita to miss out. In Premier 4 the St Bernard’s 2nds will host, but who they’ll play won’t be known until after the Rongotai 2nds host the Silverstream 3rds on Tuesday.

As it was across the province conditions at Wellington College were ideal as they hosted Hutt International in their eighth-round match.  The visitors had the carrot that a win would keep their playoff hopes alive but needed to stick with the home for as long as possible, but an early botched defensive lineup that allowed Coll hooker Michael Jacobs to stroll over left them playing catchup. Coll would add three more before the break; an excellent set piece move saw centre Josh Williams cross, joined by fullback Ben Gordon and robust blindside Calbe Stanley. Midfielder Tufuka Paongo and first-five Stanley Solomon got across in the second half, before No8 Ashton Teau – who had spent time in the bin – completed the scoring.

To their credit and despite the size disadvantage they faced HIBS were gallant and never gave up with No8 and captain Tom Brock to the fore, but will rue some of their option-taking when they had scoring chances. Coll were more clinical than they were last week, but might feel that they have a way to go for the playoffs. They had several standouts, but it would be hard to go past loosehead prop and captain William Anderson who was utterly dominant at scrumtime even after swapping sides in the second half.

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