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Plenty of interest in second round match-ups

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  • By Scott MacLean & Steven White

Friday afternoon edition

One week down, 16 left to go.

Premier Swindale Shield

Update: Unfortunately, the seventh match scheduled for tomorrow has become the first Premier match to fall victim to Covid, with leaders Paremata-Plimmerton (words never before written in this space) enduring an outbreak of the virus in the wake of their win over Avalon and leaving them unable to field a team. That means that Tawa are now idle tomorrow as well, and will have to wait a week having the opportunity to move past their bitterly disappointing last-gasp loss to MSP. Club Rugby understands that the game will be deferred for now, but we await guidance from WRFU on this.

With week one in the books, the focus now switches to the grind of the next four months towards the Jubilee Cup decider at the end of July. This week teams that opened with a win will look to keep their start going while those who suffered a reverse last Saturday will be wanting to rectify that situation this time out.

The pick of the matchups is once again at Evans Bay, where Marist St Pat’s host neighbours Oriental-Rongotai in the first eastern suburbs derby of the year. Both were winners first-up, with the Scarlets having pipped Tawa and getting some mark of revenge for that Jubilee Cup defeat, while the Magpies went on the road to Upper Hutt and returned with five points in the bag.

MSP have made a number of changes from the team that beat Tawa in week one, but the familiar face of Tuga Mativa remains on the right wing. Former Wellington U20s wing Mativa has come across from Ories this year after playing for the Magpies between 2014-2021. In some of their changes, Keelan Whitman comes into No. 8, James Proctor moves in one spot to second five in place of missing Hurricane Aidan Morgan and the vastly experienced Andrew Wells drops into fullback for his first appearance of 2022.

It will be a brotherly affair for Ories tomorrow, with two sets of three brothers in their 22 – the Poasas and the Tuilaepas. The Magpies welcome Whetu Henry to the tighthead prop position for the first time this new season, while the 9-10 combination for another week will be Isaac Bracewell and Declan Hay. Bracewell is playing his second and last game for Ories before heading to Hawke’s Bay. Another set of brothers (just two of them) Steven and Reuben Va’a, combine in the Ories midfield.

The E Tu Whanau Footy Show radio coverage on Te Upoko this week is this game from Evans Bay Park. With this week’s Swindale Shield matches kicking off at the earlier time of 2pm they’ll be on air from 1.30pm to preview all the rounds matches as well as the Hurricanes’ clash with the Crusaders later on Saturday.

Each of the next five matches being played tomorrow has an interclub trophy in play.

Outside of Ories and Pare-Plim, the only other side to record a bonus-point win in the opening round was Johnsonville who did so against Wellington, and they remain at Helston for another week for the visit of Northern United. The Hawks look to have hit the ground running and in something akin to midseason form, while the new-look Norths looked like a side struggling to gel in their loss to HOBM.

Missing from the Norths forward pack is last week’s captain and blindside Waylon Baker,  lock Sia Ulugia-Mao and No. 8 Salio Siaunuua. Olano Afutoto comes into lock, Flavius Roberts-Vili debuts at blindside, Daniel Aiono moves comes off the bench to openside and Callum Watts-Pointer moves to No.8. In the backs, Luke Kapene shifts from halfback to fullback as Jayden McCarthy comes into 12, Losi Filipo drops out of the squad and Dale Sabbagh on to the bench as part of a backline reshuffle.

Johnsonville will look to their front row of Ha’amia Ahio, Lukas Aukuso and Tevita Falekakala  to set the platform for their backs to continue their fast finishing of last week. Special mention to Johnsonville centre Aukuso Tuitama, who played some 20 Premier matches for Norths before joining the Hawks, so he will be up for the challenge.

Their interclub prize is the Barlow Trophy which honours Bert Barlow who started out as a winger for Johnsonville before a long association with the Titahi Bay club as a player, coach, Club Captain, and President. It’s been held by Norths for many years, including last year’s final round 71-12 win.

Having bested Norths last Saturday, Hutt Old Boys Marist will be the warmest favourites of all sides to make it two-from-two when they make the short journey north to take on Avalon at Fraser Park. Though not at their clinical best, the Eagles were too good for Norths and on paper should be for the Wolves who folded badly in the second half at Ngati Toa Domain, but stranger things have happened so they’ll still be wary. Avalon won’t be happy with what transpired a week ago and will be after a vast improvement, while also being able to play on a proper, renovated, grass field at home for the first time in well over five years.

The Eagles have rotated a handful of leading players out of their line-up and rotated a few in, in an early season show of depth. Gone from last week’s win over Norths are hooker Ben Power, lock David Filipo,No.8 Mika Alaifatu and right wing Nash Fiso. Incoming players for the Avalon match include Wellington U20s centre Sapati Tagoai and lock Mitchell Stringer in the starting XV and Wellington Lion Brandyn Laursen and last year’s Silverstream First XV fullback Kobe-joe Vulu on the bench. For the second week, Lions halfback Connor Collins rides the pine with Waylon Tuhoro-Robinson starting at scrum half.

Avalon won’t lack for size, with both Lafaele brothers, Neru and Chris, in the engine room for the first time together, while prop Anthony Lama gets his first start. After missing last week, evergreen Akuila Alatini slots on to the bench, while Jordan Aquila comes into fullback and his brother Jayson comes on to the bench.

They’ll contest their Billy Herbert Memorial Trophy, named after the HOBM prop who shifted clubs ahead of the 2005 season, but suffered a massive heart attack at training prior to the opening match of the season. Donated by his family, like the Barlow Trophy it’s been in the possession of one club for many years with HOBM retaining it by 34-7 a year ago.

Down river, Petone are back on the Rec, buoyed not just by beating OBU but knowing that their margin could have been even wider and that they have better performances in them. The Upper Hutt Rams are the visitors, making the trip down the valley for the Ted Connolly Cup clash and looking to get on the board themselves after their first-round loss to Ories where they were just unable to catch their opponents

A clash to watch in this one will be between the last two Silverstream No 8s, 2020’s Peter Lakai for Petone and 2021’s Toby Crosby for the Rams. Both play a similar style and go hard until their allocated minutes are up. Crosby is a part of a Rams loose forward trio that also includes experienced flankers Daniel Schrijvers and Sio Fidow, the latter, formerly of Tawa a senior player in the competition and key to their fortunes this year. The Rams are missing experienced lock Aidan Woodward for this game, which could prove to be a big loss. Jamie Norman and Josh Hunt offer firepower off their bench.

Openside flanker Jacob Gooch and first five Carne Green will co-captain Petone’s side for their first home game, that includes their Hurricanes U20 axis of players who are sure to be key protagonists for their allocated time on the field: No. 8 Peter Lakai, Riley Higgins and fullback Harry Godfrey. Then with the likes of Josh Southall and Lester Maulolo coming off the bench, the Villagers look strong on paper.

Along with his brothers Adrian and Eric, Ted Connolly played a significant role in the Upper Hutt club either side of WWII, and afterwards established a team comprising returned servicemen for an annual match. First played for in 1969, Petone hold it after winning 27-18 last season.

The seventh side to record a win on opening day was Poneke, who bested Wainuiomata. They make the second-shortest road-trip they face, heading around the corner and up the hill to Hataitai Park to face Wellington in the second eastern derby of the day. It was a typically gritty, tradesman-like win for the Streetkids who will be the favourites in this one, but after their very disrupted preparation for the season the Axemen will be better for the game against Johnsonville despite the result and should be better again back on their home ground.

For Poneke, there are first Premier starts for Hurricanes U20 players, lock Maea Tema-Schmidt and halfback Sam Howling. DJ Taoipu earns his Poneke blazer in his 30th start. In the backs, exciting Elnino Peniamina links with veteran Ben Huntley in the midfield. Look out for fullback Nick Robertson to cause havoc on the counterattack.

The Axemen have made few changes to their team that pushed Johnsonville for much of their game before conceding second half points. The brothers Coburn, hooker James and tighthead prop Tony will be key player for them tomorrow and all season. They have two debutants in their starting XV, openside flanker Ben Jackson and left wing Isaac Hilliam, whilst their second five selection remains to be confirmed.

They’ll play for their Spud Lindsay Memorial Trophy. A player, administrator, and coach for Poneke, Ray Lindsay moved to the Axemen after being replaced as Poneke’s senior coach in 1958 and was heavily involved until his death in 1973, with the trophy put in play the following year. Poneke are the holders after their big 60-5 win on last year’s opening day.

The final match in this part of the preview is the only one between sides that both lost last weekend when Wainuiomata hosts Old Boys-University at William Jones. Each showed plenty of endeavour, but with both also being amongst the sides that experienced the most turnover in the offseason it’s perhaps unsurprising that they suffered defeat

Home team Wainuiomata have named a near-identical line-up to that which lost 12-17 to Poneke last week, with just the one change in the run-on XV at loosehead prop where Jason Matehe replaces Kade Tiatia. In the loose forward reserves, Greg Lealofi is replaced by another vastly experienced operator in Matt Jacobs.

In contrast, visitors OBU have a number of changes and have named a 22 with six debutants. This includes a new locking duo of Oskar Lynch and Cam Jackson and three Premier first timers on the bench. New second second five George Faingaa is new to Goatland but a former Upper Hutt Rams player between 2011-19.

Openside Jack Riley makes his first start, last week’s fullback Mitchell McLeod moves to fist five and veteran Te Wehi Wright moves from centre to fullback.

Other familiar players include Josh Gimblett coming on to the bench, outside back Alex Ropeti coming on to the bench and co-captains at 8 and 9, Dom Ropeti and Kyle Preston.

At stake is their Peter Dunford Cup. Dunford was a Wellington College Old Boys player who moved to the valley in the 1950’s and became heavily involved with the fledging club. Initially played for by Wainuiomata and WCOB, it passed onto OBU when it was formed. OBU are the holders after winning 36-8 last season, but the ledge in recent years favours Wainuiomata with a couple of notable upsets.

Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

Covid was always going to be a factor in the season, and its rather unfortunate that the opening weekend was affected as badly as it was with just one match played. However that game produced an eyebrow-raising result, with Marist St Pat’s and their strong new-look backline playing Norths off of Evans Bay Park, and suddenly their trip through the cutting to face champions Oriental-Rongotai at the Polo Ground takes on a whole new complexion as it could determine where the first-round trophy heads to even at this early stage. Ories were idle last week after Petone were forced to postpone late on Friday and will have to hit the ground running to maintain their place at the head of the pack.

Elsewhere Norths head home to regroup and will face Avalon at Porirua Park, Poneke head up the harbour to the Rec and Petone, and Paremata-Plimmerton make the trek over the Haywards and the Hill Road to take on Wainuiomata at William Jones.

All four matches remain at the usual 11.30am start time.

Other matches

There’s also a list of non-competition matches as teams in other grades as teams round into shape ahead of their start dates later this month. A list that we’re aware of includes (all 12pm unless stated):

  • Avalon vs HOBM Premier 2, Fraser Park
  • MSP v Ories Premier 2, Evans Bay
  • Petone vs Upper Hutt Rams Premier 2, Petone Rec
  • Tawa vs Stokes Valley Premier 2, Lyndhurst Park
  • Wainuiomata Premier 2 vs Carterton, Mary Crowther (TBC)
    Poneke Premier 2 vs Poneke Ruffnuts, Kilbirnie Park (11.45am)
  • Petone vs HOBM Colts, Petone Rec
  • Johnsonville vs OBU Colts, Helston Park
  • Poneke vs MSP Colts, Kilbirnie Park
  • Wainuiomata vs Pare-Plim Colts, Mary Crowther (11.30am)
  • Wellington vs Poneke Under 85s, Hataitai Park
  • Silverstream vs St Pats Town 1st/2nd XV squads, Silverstream
  • Hutt International vs Mana 1st XVs, Trentham

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