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Club and representative match thrillers in community rugby

The Wellington Maori side missed out 25-26 to the Taranaki Pasifika side today, one of several matches that went down to the wire. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

  • By Steven White, Adam Julian and Scott MacLean

There were some close games out there today, involving Wellington club and representative teams, both home and away.

At Taihape, the Wellington U19s went down 22-24 to their Waikato counterparts late in the match, after leading 22-12 with barely five minutes to play.

Waikato scored two late tries to win the game, after Wellington had crossed the chalk three times, through loose forwards Dominic Ropeti and Peter Lakai and wing Sapati Tagaoi.

At Wellington Stadium, the Wellington Pride were on the right side of the ledger in beating Counties Manukau 26-25 with a try on fulltime. Read more below.

At the Hutt Recreation Ground, The Wellington Maori opened their season with a 25-26 loss to Taranaki Pasifika. Shorn of several players, the Maori nonetheless got out to a 17-0 lead before the visitors began to peg them back. It was 17-12 at the break before they pulled ahead, with the Maori ultimately coming up short.

The two U85kg National Knockout Cup matches at Hataitai and Kilbirnie Parks both went down to the wire, with Marist St Pat’s kicking a penalty on fulltime to beat the Wellington Axemen 23-22 and Poneke pipping Petone 22-19. Read more below. The third match today saw Eastbourne edge Hutt Old Boys Marist 22-18, a result which included a disallowed try to the Eagles side.

One of the two Premier 2 Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial semi-finals was a tightly contested affair, with the Avalon Wolves beating the Stokes Valley Rhinos 8-7 at Delany Park. The other semi-final saw top seed Wainuiomata hold off Northern United White 28-18. Wainuiomata will host Avalon in next weekend’s final.

In two comfortable victories for men’s representative matches, the Wellington Centurions beat the Wairarapa Bush Heartland squad 45-10 in Carterton, after leading 14-5 at halftime, and the Wellington Lions opened their National Provincial Championship campaign with a 54-7 victory over the Northland Taniwha.

Blindside flanker Taine Plumtree scores for the Lions against Northland.

U85kg matches at Kilbirnie and Hataitai go down to the wire

Seven days ago the Poneke and Petone Premiers required extra time to be separated in the Hardham Cup final. Today the 85kg outfits were only centimetres away from repeating history.

Down 21-19, in a National knockout fixture, Petone attacked down the left wing and almost scored a try when No.8 Mason Henry passed to Jesse Hendry in a hole. Three juggles, a deep breath, and the pass didn’t stick. However, a penalty advantage applied and Ben Brooking (looking into the sun) beside the corner flag on the 22 lined up a shot to win it. The ball slipped cruelly under the bar and Poneke prevailed.

The similarities with the Hardham Cup final were evident early too. Poneke was ahead 14-0 after 20 minutes with two converted tries to first-five Pakai Turia. The former Wellington Lion, with a haircut resembling Dame Edina, was laughing with glee as twice he fooled the Villagers with a swift left foot step.

Premier halfback Cam Ferreira helped Petone fight back. A quick tap and snipe following repeat penalties halved the score.

Petone first-five Josh Tanner levelled the scores with a try in the corner, converted by Brooking. Josh found himself on the wing with a routine dive, but instead chopped back infield to duck under three defenders and ensure an easier conversion.

Poneke centre Isaac Moe-Jenkins is a classy Premier player and when he was clobbered high after a searing break a penalty try had Poneke 21-14 ahead with Brooking cooling his heels for ten minutes.

Petone, with only two trainings of experience, dug deep and when Ratu Uluviti strode clear following intelligent ingenuity and the stage was set for a pulsating finish.

This report above was written by Adam Julian, as Scott MacLean was the referee of this one.

It was also high drama at the end of the national U85kg Knockout Cup match at Hataitai Park between Marist St Pat’s and the Wellington Axemen.

The visitors MSP took home a 23-22 victory on fulltime, thanks to a last gasp penalty to first-five Sam Rixon.

Moments earlier, the Axemen had seemingly scored the winning try off an attacking scrum after dominating inside MSP’s 22 for several minutes. They should have scored at least once before eventually crossing the whitewash but gave away an attacking penalty and then were held up over the line in a separate incident. They also tuned down a penalty kick on goal during this period of play.

The conversion from a handy angle was missed but they were half-celebrating their 22-20 lead as MSP kicked off again, re-gained possession and won from the winning penalty opportunity.

Previously, MSP No 8 Adam Dyhrberg had scored his second try of the match and MSP had gone up 20-17. This in turn had followed the Axemen’s first try of the second half after another long period hot on attack that had put them ahead 17-15.

MSP had previously established a 15-10 half time lead on the back of a try to second five Jackson Martin and No 8 Dyhrberg’s first try. The Axemen kicked a penalty and scored a converted try.

New Zealand Marist Colts finish tour on a high at Hataitai

The New Zealand Marist Colts (NZM) completed an unbeaten four match internal tour of New Zealand with a lively 40-31 win over the Wellington Centurions Colts in the early game at Hataitai Park this afternoon.

NZM won six tries to five and led 21-19 at half time.

Scrum time in the match between the New Zealand Marist and Wellington Centurions Colts sides.

However, it was the Centurions who were fast out of the blocks, scoring two early tries and racing to a 12-0 lead. The second of these tries was an 85-metre breakaway from a defensive scrum with captain and openside flanker Josh Godsiff finishing the sweeping movement.

This stirred NZM into life and they started making inroads, particularly through their midfield. They replied with their first and second tries starting from a lineout and scrum respectively, and the halfback converted his own second try which put them ahead 14-12.

Slick hands from a lineout 40 metres out gave NZM their third try in the corner and they went ahead 21-12.

The Centurions bounced back just before half time with a try to Johnsonville wing Aaron Fawkes.

A big cloud drifted over the ground at halftime, bringing with it a moderate southerly wind and cooler conditions which now favoured the Centurions in the second half.

The Centurions were the first to score in the second half from a scrum and a series of drives by the forwards and No. 8 Mark Savelio coming up with the five-pointer. This put them up 24-21.

However, NZM injected fresh impetus off the bench and they lifted their effort and scored three consecutive tries to go ahead 40-24, the third following five minutes of good defence inside their own 22 and a breakout that led to their match-winning try with several minutes to play.

The Centurions, with the nucleus of their side made up of recent Wellington Colts champions OBU Green, refused to give up, and they were rewarded with the game’s final try scored by replacement prop Calvin Fepuleai just before the final whistle.

The NZM game on Thursday night at the same venue against the Wellington Marist Colts was called off early owing to the floodlights malfunctioning. The two teams played a shortened game and the NZM Colts won 12-0.

Pride in Harmony as Heat Cool in Last Minute

The Wellington Pride trailed all the way, except for the last play, as they stunned the Counties Manukau Heat 26-25 in the fourth round of the Farah Palmer Cup at Wellington Stadium this afternoon.

Down 25-21, with the siren having sounded, Counties had a lineout ten-metres out from halfway. Heat lock Rebecca Burch had won a wealth of possession, but fumbled the last throw from Black Ferns hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate presenting the hosts a lifeline.

Impressive fullback Georgia Daals broke down the western touchline and won a penalty five-metres out from the line. The gassed visitors, who looked increasingly vulnerable out wide in the second half, were stretched to breaking point. Wing Harmony Ioane on the end of the precise Pride chain touched down for her first try to earn a meteoric and crucial victory.

Had the Pride lost, a semi-final would have been a faint prospect with two defeats and Auckland remaining. However, Bay of Plenty is a winnable match and with growing character the scalp of Auckland is not beyond possibility.

Down 14-10, and being stuffed in the forwards, Wellington was reduced to 13 players just before halftime when initially second-five Monica Tagoai (deliberate knock down) and then openside Precious Auimatagi (collapsing a maul) were yellow-carded.

Counties predictably scored to expand the lead to 19-10, but Pride pivot Amanda Rasch was able to kick a penalty to make it 19-13 before Wellington was restored to a full complement.

Rasch and Counties’ Hazel Tubic have the most educated right foots’ in New Zealand women’s rugby. Each traded 30-metre penalties to make it 22-16 heading into the final quarter. Vitally, Tubic missed two other shots from a similar range.

Ayesha Leti-I’iga was starved of possession, but still found time and space to score a record 47th try for the Pride. With little room between the touchline and two defenders she bullied her way through at the Counties 22 and the score was 22-21.

Tubic was on target again, but all Counties could offer was an increasingly tired kick and chase. Wellington broke often on the edges but couldn’t finish until the very end. No.8 Dhys Falefaga and blindside Jonah Ngan-Woo were immense

Counties scrum and lineout mauls had Wellington sweating in the first 40 minutes. Manurewa mountain Kalo Cuthers impressively claimed two tries with busy and aggressive carries.

Fullback Georgia Daals made her first appearance in 2021 and her value is immeasurable. Consistently illusive she scored Wellington’s first try from a rare foray into the Counties 22. A dummy cut started by Rasch opened the Heat.

Counties have lost two matches from four outings but with a bonus point remain two points ahead of the Pride in the Premiership standings. Wellington leads the tight head-to-head series with Counties 5-4. The first fixture between the Unions was in 2013.


A busy day across the region in terms of college action, with final rounds and playoff action.

In the Premiership the results were largely predictable. Scots warmed up for next week’s semi-final by beating St Bernard’s 54-14, while their upcoming opponents – St Pats Town – accounted for Hutt International by 59-12. Silverstream will head back to Wellington College next Saturday after they saw off Mana 52-14 while College had the day off after Porirua defaulted. In the remaining game Rongotai finished their season on a high and left Aotea winless with a 63-22 win.

In Premier 2 runaway leaders Upper Hutt had their colours lowered, with the second-placed Silverstream 2nds winning their top-of-the-table clash 17-10. There were only two other results recorded with Bishop Viard beating Kapiti 10-5, and Tawa accounting for Paraparaumu 40-5. The other results were by default with the Town 2nds and Naenae unable to front against Wairarapa College and the Wellington College 2nds respectively. The result of all that is that Upper Hutt will host Viard, while just down the road the Silverstream 2nds will do likewise against Wairarapa College.

Silverstream and Town will contest the blue riband U15 Division final in a fortnight’s time. Stream saw off a plucky Hutt International by 29-15, while Town beat Wellington College 31-17 on the artificial turf.

The two Premier grade finals were contrasting affairs. At the Hutt Rec, Taita were too good for Hutt Valley HS in the Premier 3 final winning 36-5 to claim the Paul Cameron Cup, while a short distance away the St Bernard’s 2nd XV took the Premier 4 Onslow Cup by edging the Silverstream 3rd XV by 15-13.

In the U65kg Ina Hansen Cup final, home school Paraparaumu College held on to beat Hutt Valley High School 22-19.

Paraparaumu led 12-5 at halftime but were under considerable pressure throughout most of the first half.

After 25 minutes, the Paraparaumu right winger went down heavily in a tackle near the sideline with an apparent knee injury. The match was held up for several minutes and an ambulance was called. The game was then moved to the adjacent field for the remainder of the first half.

On the new field, Paraparaumu scored their second try from a lineout and went ahead two tries to one at the break.

Try time for the Paraparaumu College U65kg side in their final win over Hutt Valley High School.

The opening minutes of the second half remained tight and willing, HVHS went desperately close to scoring but Paraparaumu got themselves out of jail.

But they couldn’t prevent HVHS coming back and scoring their second try and a grandstand finish was on the cards. From there Paraparaumu added to their points tally and held on for the three-point win.

Paraparaumu College completed an unbeaten season with this victory.

There was success for Hutt Valley High School in the true lightweights of the Under 55kg grade as they claimed the David Scott Cup 31-12 over Silverstream. Silverstream started the stronger and dominated the opening 20 minutes but could only manage a solitary try. HVHS were spurred into action but only managed to go ahead when they scored on the stroke of halftime, and extended their lead after the break. A second try to Silverstream narrowed the margin to 19-12, but Hutt Valley scored twice in the last 10 minutes to close the game out and complete an unbeaten season.

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