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Bond Banter 9 August (some news and information to start the new week in rugby)

Above: Brandyn Laursen celebrates with teammates his try for the Wellington Lions on Saturday.

This coming weekend is the concluding weekend of club rugby in Wellington for 2021. Rugby at a glance below – as always we will preview everything on Friday.

There are two club rugby finals coming up on Saturday, these being:

  • Wellington club rugby Premier 2, Division 2 Final. Wainuiomata v Avalon, William Jones Park, 2.30pm.
  • Wellington club rugby Reserve Grade, Division 2 Final. OBU Pink Ginners v MSP Internationals, Kickoff time and venue TBC.

There is also a National u85KG Knockout Cup match, this being:

  • OBU Scallywags v Upper Hutt Rams, Kelburn Park, 2.30pm

The semi-finals of the First XV Premiership are this Saturday, these being:

  • Scots College (1) v St Pat’s Town (4)
  • Wellington College (2) v St Pat’s Silverstream (3)

The Premiership final is next weekend, along with the remaining college finals including the Premier 2 Murray Jensen Cup and the U15A Father Gus Hill Cup.

There are several representative matches this coming Saturday involving Wellington teams across several venues. These being:

  • Wellington Centurions v Whanganui Heartland squad, Porirua Park, 2.30pm
  • Wellington Māori v Horowhenua-Kapiti Heartland squad, Levin, 2.30pm
  • Wairarapa-Bush Heartland squad v Wellington Samoans, Masterton, 12.00pm
  • Waikato Mooloo v Wellington Lions, Hamilton, Sunday 2.05pm
  • Waikato Women v Wellington Pride, Hamilton, Sunday, 11.35am

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The first weekend of the NPC is done and dusted, with a convincing 54-7 win for the Wellington Lions over the Northland Taniwha. The Lions should be putting teams like the Taniwha away most years, but it remains to be seen how well the Lions played or how weak the Taniwha were. Obviously few saw the match (see below), so perhaps fans can reserve judgement when they play the Waikato Mooloo this coming weekend in their 40th anniversary match since the 22-24 Ranfurly Shield win over them in 1981. Waikato beat North Harbour 28-15 so will be a stern early competition test for the Lions.

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Blindside flanker Taine Plumtree scored three tries against Northland, on his Lions NPC debut. Asafo Aumua did the same thing against Northland in 2016. Brain McGrattan (1984) and Ma’a Nonu (2005) have also scored three tries in a match in the NPC era (1976) against Northland.

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Wellington enjoyed their biggest win against Northland since a 65-12 triumph in 2004.

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Unfortunately Xavier Numia was the victim of a reckless high shot, so hopefully the perpetuator gets punished accordingly. Numia has had lots of troubles with concussion, so not a good thing to happen to him.

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Counties-Manukau had a combined tally of 213 test caps in their roster for their opening round NPC match against Manawatu but was soundly beaten 39-21 by Manawatu who won just a solitary game last year. Not surprising as Manawatu have shored up their squad this year, with the inclusion of first-five Brett Cameron from Canterbury (29 points on debut for his new province) a big gain for them

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Disappointing decision by NZME not to feature the Wellington Lions v Northland NPC match on radio on Saturday. Rule number one if you have broadcast rights is use your broadcast rights. Or you let others use them.

When was the last time a Wellington representative match wasn’t broadcast on radio? Decades ago! Why weren’t other stations given the chance to provide coverage?

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The two games at Wellington Stadium were moved forward from late afternoon to early evening kick-offs respectively to 11.35am to 2.05pm kick-offs, thus killing any chance of a crowd beyond a few hundred hardy souls, given there was so much other rugby going on around the region in the college and representative space and middle of the day Saturday is a busy time for people out and about with domestic and personal chores. This was to clear the way for the All Blacks on TV on Saturday night. Let’s hope that the WRFU was well compensated by the NZRU and/or Sky for this, or it didn’t cost the local union too many bags of Satoshis to put these games on when they did. Alternatively, why on earth weren’t these games moved to the Hutt Rec or Porirua Park?

Having Lions and Pride games on in the middle of the day also takes out photographers from covering community rugby elsewhere as they go to these games and other rugby misses out on being documented.

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No game-day programme at the Stadium on Saturday either, so it appears these have quietly slipped away as well.

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It was noted that Stuff (the media publication) is giving 3,2 and 1 points in NPC games to matches they cover. They gave 3 points to Peter Umaga-Jensen on Saturday, 2 to Taine Plumtree and 1 to Asafo Aumua.

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On a similar subject, was there a winner determined for this year’s Billy Wallace Best & Fairest competition in Wellington club rugby? We either missed this, or it’s more secret squirrel stuff going on.

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Julian Savea looking trim and fit in the Lions portraits by Dave Lintott. But he has noticeably slowed up. He did leap high and take a really good catch and score a try, but he lacks the speed for a top winger.

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Auckland beat Canterbury 35-24. Auckland looked good for most of the game, and Canterbury were all out of sorts for first half. Canterbury played much better in the second half, and closed the game right up, but Auckland pulled away in the last few minutes. One of the Canterbury reserves, Corey Kellow, who is former head boy from Sacred Heart College in Auckland, scored a try as soon as he came on and looked the part. Another talented Auckland player lost to Canterbury.

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A number of close games in the National Under 85kg Knockout Cup. The extra time rules in the event of a regulation time draw are: Five minutes each way of extra time with the first team to score winning. But if still tied the winner is determined by:

  • -Most tries
  • Most converted tries
  •  First try
  • First penalty or Drop Goal.
  • Away team wins

The recently crowned Wellington champions the Avalon Wolves U85kgs were interested spectators on the Hataitai Park terraces on Saturday – they play MSP in their next round  u85kg National Knockout Cup match in a fortnight.

Meanwhile there are  a number of games around the country to conclude round two next weekend. The quarter-finals commence on Saturday 4 September.

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The Horowhenua-Kapiti U20s, after their win 18-10 over Wairarapa-Bush on Sunday in the final of the Hurricanes Heartland U20 competition. The Horowhenua-Kapiti team had already beaten Poverty Bay and Whanganui heading into Sunday’s decider at Massey. This was HK’s first win in this series in 12 years. A combined Hurricanes Heartland U20 team will play the Wellington, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay U19s in the upcoming Central Shield Trophy competition.

For more on this and all Hurricanes age-grade rugby over the next several weeks visit and bookmark the Hurricanes Youth Council website

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A few Wellington club rugby players in Wairarapa-Bush’s Heartland squad that met the Wellington Centurions on Saturday, including left wing Soli Malatai (Petone), second five Tafa Tafa (Upper Hutt Rams) and replacement back Isaac Bracewell (Wellington Axemen).

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Above: Former Oriental-Rongotai lock Liam Hallam-Eames made his NPC debut for Northland – his third province after Manawatu and Auckland.

A Wellington club rugby NPC team from other provinces from the opening round of matches this weekend could look like this (obviously a couple of players out of position):

1.Joe Apikotoa (Hawke’s Bay – HOBM)
2.Leni Apisai (Auckland – Norths)
3.Tietie Tuimaga (Manawatu – Johnsonville)
4.Henry Stowers (Canterbury – Wainuiomata)
5.Liam Hallam-Eames (Northland – Oriental-Rongotai)
6.Shamus Hurley-Langton (Manawatu – OBU)
7.Murphy Taramai (North Harbour – Upper Hutt Rams)
8.Nili Latu (Counties-Manukau – Poneke)
9.Logan Henry (Manawatu – Petone)
10.Fletcher Smith (Waikato – MSP)
11.Salesi Rayasi (Auckland – HOBM)
12.Kienan Higgins (Hawke’s Bay – Norths)
13.Willie Tufui (Southland – Petone)
14.Willie Fine (Otago – Petone)
15.Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty – HOBM)

Plus/or: Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (Hawke’s Bay – OBU), Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke’s Bay – Norths), Danny Toala (Hawke’s Bay – Wellington Axemen), Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Northland – Petone), Shamus Hurley-Langton (Manawatu – OBU), Kayne Hammington (Otago – Upper Hutt Rams), Luke Campbell (Bay of Plenty – OBU), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Bay of Plenty – Johnsonville), Hugh Renton (Tasman – OBU), Jack Lam (Waikato – Ories), Joel Hintz (Hawke’s Bay – OBU)

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A shame the Northland v Tasman Farah Palmer Cup game couldn’t have been played on a better field. Northland won 27-0 in Motueka.

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The Tasman Mako men’s team had a good 27-14 win over Bay of Plenty – the defending champions won’t be relinuishing their NPC crown lightly!

The Tasman Mako feature on the cover of this month’s Rugby News magazine, also featuring inside some contributions by Club Rugby.

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Harmony Ioane has scored 19 tries in 28 games for Norths and her match-winner on Saturday was her first in three appearances for the Pride.

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Canterbury confirmed their semi-final place in the Farah Palmer Cup with a 32-7 win over Auckland. Only the 45-12 win achieved in 2019 was larger. In 2018 Canterbury beat Auckland 37-12 and Kendra Cocksedge scored four tries.

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Above: Bill Brown Park in Palmerston North. This is the venue as listed for several leading Manawatu representative games against various opposition (including the Wellington U19s) and the Hurricanes schools Boys, Girls, Co-ed and Life Member Cup finals on 4 September. Looks lovely on a sunny day. Problem is there doesn’t appear to be anything there. No shelter from the sun, wind or rain, no height for viewing, no power or facilities, no apparent changing rooms (the building at the far end is a church, and there is another church/community centre at the near end, out of shot), very few carparks, including off street parking, half sized uprights on the far field (s), which may or may not be full sized fields. If you are in Wellington, think Porirua Park upper fields meets Mary Crowther Park. Nothing against those two venues, but perhaps not as an inviting venue as others for hosting leading rep and big-time school games?

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Good to see a Taranaki representative team playing in Wellington this weekend – a rare occurrence in recent seasons.

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Aaron Smith joined just three other halfbacks: George Gregan (139), Ben Youngs (111) and Alessandro Troncon (102) to play 100 tests. After a three year absence he’s back leading the haka too. He has won 84 of the tests he’s played and scored 21 tries.

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If Noah Loloseio had landed the five kicks that he missed – and none of them were hard – would the All Blacks have lost?

Remember the two years leading into the last Rugby World Cup, when the All Blacks were papering over the cracks with very fortunate wins? In reality the All Blacks are in danger of getting smacked around by big forward packs like the South Africans and the English. Even the Argentinian forwards will be licking their lips.

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Aorere College narrowly lost to St Kent’s 7-5 in the 1A Auckland First XV Premiership. Amazing the chance when St Kent’s is stopped from essentially purchasing a team.

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There is still two rounds to play before the Auckland 1A semi-finals, but in other First XV competitions around the country, the Super 8 final is this coming Saturday between Hastings Boys’ High School and Hamilton Boys’ High School who snuck in to the straight final ahead of Rotorua Boys’ High School on bonus points.

It is semi-finals time in the Crusaders region First XV competition. Top qualifier St Bede’s will play St Thomas’ in one semi-final and second placed Nelson will play Timaru BHS in the other. Last year’s winners St Andrew’s were fifth and Christchurch BHS were sixth.

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Morne Styen (37)  kicked the winning penalty of the Lions series for the Springboks this past weekend, a dozen years after first achieving the same feat in 2009. Johan Ackermann, at 37 years and 34 days old, and Victor Matfiled 38 at the time of the 2019 World Cup are older players to feature in tests for the  Springboks to ever play in a test match. The game was on 7 July 2007 against the Wallabies. Morne Styen has scored 742 points in 67 tests.

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A column late last week in the Wairarapa Times-Age about Wairarapa-Bush club rugby:

https://times-age.co.nz/take-the-blinkers-off/?fbclid=IwAR3SZ-3uWGAdWFTokqMQnw0_3iyl_MRNpV1l0o-nEvxrLjgLWx9JIw2VKk4

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Rugby coming up in August, September and October

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More photos galleries posted after the weekend. Visit and bookmark this page at: https://clubrugby.smugmug.com/2021 

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This Monday column is a collaborative one with a few contributors. If you have news or information or something to contribute please email editor@clubrugby.co.nz 

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