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Club rugby contenders looking to stay in the mix in round six

  • By Scott MacLean and Steven White

Draws & Teamlists HERE 

Several teams are hoping to propel themselves into contention as the sixth round of 13 of the Swindale Shield takes place throughout the Wellington region tomorrow.

It is also the sixth round of Premier Women’s matches, and they have their Gala Day at the Petone Rec on Petone’s Old Timers’ Day, whilst all other grades plus college teams are in action.

There’s another pair of Premier centuries being brought up this weekend. Paremata-Plimmerton lock and captain James Corcoran brings up 100 matches for the Hammerheads; fittingly against the club he started out playing in Wellington for, while at Kilbirnie Park the respected and popular Daniel Mangin reaches 100 Premier matches in the middle with the whistle for the WRRA. Our congratulations to both.

Te Upoko and the E Tu Whanau Footy Show heads north this week – far north – as they pull into Maidstone Park to call the home town Upper Hutt Rams against Norths. They’ll be on air from 2pm.

Unfortunately, Johnsonville have had to withdraw their top two teams for tomorrow’s scheduled fixtures in the Swindale Shield (against HOBM) and Premier 2 (Paremata-Plimmerton). A statement from Johnsonville follows in italics.

A further wave of Covid-19 has hit the club over the past few days. This has impacted a number of players across various teams and also certain coaches, management and members.

This has impacted the ability for both our Premier and Premier Reserves to field a safe and reasonable team against both Hutt Old Boys Marist (HOBM) and Paremata-Plimmerton (Para-Plim) in their respective competitions. A decision has been made by the club to not play both matches.

This decision has not been taken lightly and we are extremely disappointed we are not able to take on HOBM on their Old Timer’s Day. As well, our Premier Reserves in their match vs Para-Plim. We have subsequently reached out to contacts at both clubs.

Following a decision agreed with the management groups of the two teams, our impacted playing groups were informed through a meeting with the normal training cancelled on Thursday. This aimed to ensure any infection across the group does not extend any further.

Premier Men’s Swindale Shield

As above, the big news that broke this morning was that the Hutt Old Boys Marist versus Johnsonville Swindale Shield fixture in the main game on their Old Timers Day’ is off. The Premier 2 game against OBU at 2.45pm is now the main game on the Hutt Rec.

Unfortunately, an outbreak of Covid in the Hawks camp has seen this one put into the “game not played” basket, so both sides will be allocated three points as per the Union’s bylaws. See updates above.

In terms of the table, the highlight clash of the round is on Old Timers’ Day at the Petone Rec where second-placed Petone meets third-place Marist St Pat’s. Both sides come in on the back of impressive wins last Saturday – Petone over Wellington and MSP over Pare-Plim – with the latter’s loss to Upper Hutt being the only blemish either have suffered so far. With much at stake, it seems unlikely that a backward step will be taken by any of the participants.

Notable change for Petone this week, perhaps unexpected, is the loss of second-five Riley Higgins to the Hurricanes squad for Sunday. Higgins’ Hurricanes U20 teammates Peter Lakai and Harry Godfrey take their places at No. 8 and fullback, while Iona Apineru and Ta’amilo Va’a come into the tight five. Look out for a big game from Lester Maulolo at centre.

MSP have Chicago Doyle at first-five, with James Proctor taking a head knock last week against Paremata-Plimmerton. Andrew Wells returns to the line-up at fullback, with Tuga Mativa moving back to the wing. Logan Love plays his third Premier match but first as starting halfback, whilst James Tuia moves from openside flanker back to hooker. MSP Women’s coach Ryan Setafano makes his first appearance of the year on the bench as outside back cover.

One of four matches with an interclub trophy in play, they’ll contest their Bill Elvy Memorial Trophy. Originally from Canterbury where he was an All Blacks winger, Elvy joined Petone and was a Wellington representative in the late 1920’s. His son Norm played for both the pre-merger Marist and St Pat’s OB clubs, and grandson Martin turned out for MSP. MSP holds it after their emphatic 50-7 win in the late rounds of last season.

In terms of reputation though, the feature clash is out in the eastern suburbs as Poneke and Oriental-Rongotai meet at Kilbirnie in one of the more eagerly awaited matches of the season, their annual Jim Grbich Memorial Shield tilt.

Poneke will be missing Galu Taufale again (calf injury) but welcome Ben Huntley back into their backline to start at second-five. Huntley has played north of 200 Premier games for Poneke so his experience will be well received. Andrew Jones returns to hooker and will captain the side tomorrow. Josh Wilson comes into first-five and Pakai Turia moves to fullback and Nick Robertson to the right wing.

Ories have the power and the passion of Alex Fidow and Whetu Henry as their two props for this game, while Sione Halililo versus Jimmy Hewitt at openside flanker will be a good tussle. Both the Va’a brothers in midfield, Steven and Rueben, will again be key to the Ories backline cashing in. Former St John’s Hastings player Kristian Barber makes his debut off the bench.

The match commemorates the life of Jim Grbich, a brilliantly talented midfielder-turned-loose forward who played for Poneke from his arrival from Pukekohe in 1950 until his untimely death in a car accident near the Tawa Interchange in 1962, aged just 31. A Wellington and NZ Maori representative, he formed a powerful combination at all three levels with clubmate Moray Bevan and seemingly always knew where the ball would be. The Shield was presented by the Gardiner family of the Oriental club in 1964 and has been contested between the pair (Oriental Rongotai since 1968) since. Ories are the holders after winning 37-17 last year, but the past decade has seen several nail-biting scorelines.

Old Boys-University have won four straight after opening with a loss, and with the way they put away previously unbeaten Poneke the signs are there that the new look Goats outfit are starting to click into gear. They head north, and up the motorways to Ngati Toa Domain to face Paremata-Plimmerton, with the Hammerheads also an improved outfit from last season – last week’s reverse against MSP aside – but still searching for that big-name scalp to take down; could that be tomorrow?

Home team the Hammerheads have Hurricanes tighthead prop Pasilio Tosi in their starting team for tomorrow, alongside centurion and lock James Corcoran. Former recent Norths players Eli Moata’a and Esi Komaisaivai start in the midfield together, outside former Norths first five Zane Edwards. Paremata-Plimmerton haven’t named a second lock or right wing, adding mystery to their team.

The team the Billygoats will put out is similar to the one that overran Poneke in the second half last week. Two changes to the starting pack, with Samson Koneferenisi and Matt Eathorne coming into tighthead and lock respectively. Three amendments to their back division, with Elijah Maene- Lokeni replacing try scorer Ty Poe at centre, another try scorer, Isaac Wilson, in for Jan Lammers on the left wing and Mitch McLeod replacing centurion Te Wehi Wright at fullback. OBU have also left the last two spaces on their bench unnamed, creating more intrigue for this one.

Defending Jubilee champions Tawa finally made their way back into the top-eight and doing so in comprehensive fashion by putting Avalon to the sword. They head across the region and into Wainuiomata to face the locals at William Jones Park. With Wainuiomata having just the one win this year you would have the visitors as the favourites, but the hosts were difficult for HOBM to break down last week and stubbornness might just be their calling card at this point.

For Wainuiomata, Niko Patelesio comes off his right wing in his 23rd Premier appearance to line up at second-five. Caleb Nicholas drops out and Trei Mu takes Patelesio’s place on the wing. In the loose forwards, Kitiona Leitufia replaces the experienced Greg Lealofi and Jimmy Grindrod comes on to the reserves on debut for the green and black machine.

Tawa is fielding a settled tight five, with Tootai Amasone Ioane trading places with Weston Sao at openside. Solomon Uelese comes into halfback for Swayde Brightwell and George Sims comes on to the bench. Next to Sims will be evergreen veteran Peniasi Tokakece. After playing all four games so far for Tawa in the midfield, Isi Saumaki starts on the right wing.

They also contest their Chris Stirling Cup. Currently the Director of Rugby at St Pat’s Town, Stirling served both clubs as their club coaching coordinator in the late 2000’s after a lengthy playing career with Tawa, before embarking on a series of coaching stints overseas before returning home. Tawa holds this after their 33-13 win last year.

Two sides that harboured greater ambitions that what they’ve achieved so far meet at Maidstone Park, with Norths headed east over the Haywards to take on the Upper Hutt Rams. Both sides have just the one win on the season so far; though in Norths’ case they’ve faced four of the current top seven already while the Rams already have taken down MSP but will be disappointed that they let their good lead slip against Johnsonville. Even at this relatively early juncture, their hopes of playing even one Jubilee Cup playoff match could be at risk with a loss here.

The Rams have the services of just two of the three Svensons tomorrow, with Josh not playing. Cassius Misa moves back into second-five, while Tynan Barrett drops back to fullback with Josh Moorby back with the Hurricanes. Jack Wright misses this match, but his replacement at No. 8 is Toby Crosby, so it will be youth versus experience there when he takes on Luca Rees.

Norths have selected the exact same backline as that which missed out to Ories last start but have made some positional switches within that group. Such as Losi Filipo moving from midfield to the wing and Jayden McCarthy from 12 to 13. In the forwards, Blake Rogers comes in for Ethan Robinson-Mate in a straight swap, while Olano Afutoto comes into blindside and Peter Pili also drops out of their group.

In the final of the interclub trophies in play tomorrow, they contest their Terry Farrow Memorial Cup. Farrow was a Life Member of Norths, and one of several instrumental in the forming of the club through the amalgamation of the Porirua and Titahi Bay clubs. His father George was an Upper Hutt identity, and the first person honoured with Life Membership of that club. Norths are the holders after winning 20-10 last season.

Finally, there is what could be a potential wooden-spoon decider as winless pair Wellington and Avalon meet at Hataitai Park. It’s been a difficult start for both in 2022 and each come in on the back of a heavy defeat a week ago, with the likelihood for both being that this may be their best opportunity to get something in the wins column for this part of the season. How the two teams respond to the challenge could be the determining factor.

The Axemen have made a handful of rotational changes to their team for tomorrow from last weekend. Lati Lati and Joe Southorn start at centre and on the right wing respectively, while Cameron Rosingrave starts in the front row. Tony and James Coburn will be fighting fires off the bench, whilst Charles Morris and Dylan Hefford-Thomsen are both on debut in the reserves.

The Wolves have Teofilo Paulo back at lock to help shore up their engine room, while Anthony Lama comes into tighthead prop for regular captain Daley Ena and Chris Lafaele slots into No. 8, replacing Michael Va’a. Avalon’s backline is unchanged for this match. A new name on the bench for Avalon is that of Nasi Manu – possibly the former Tongan international and Canterbury-Otago-Crusaders-Highlanders veteran loose forward.

As usual, all seven matches kick-off at 2.45pm.

Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

All roads for the Women lead to the Petone Rec tomorrow as they convene for their annual Gala Day with all four matches happening simultaneously. The pick of the bunch would be the one in front of the grandstand as Petone face Marist St Pat’s with both looking to cement themselves in the top-tier for the championship round, while beyond that on #4 Avalon will be looking to stay in the race as they meet Poneke. The other two matches have leaders Oriental Rongotai taking on Paremata-Plimmerton on the #2 ground, with both of their newly selected Black Ferns Jonah Ngan-Woo and Ayesha Leti-L’iga playing, and Norths up against Wainuiomata on #3 with each of the powerhouses probably having one eye on their meeting next weekend.

All four matches kick-off at 11.30am.

Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield and National Mutual Cup

A strong slate of matches in the second-tiers third round. In Division 1 Tawa will look to keep their long winning streak intact when they host MSP at Lyndhurst while the other two unbeaten sides through two rounds – OBU and Ories – both hit the road: The Goats are at the Hutt Rec for a meeting with HOBM, while the Magpies make the short trip to Kilbirnie to face Poneke. The fourth match sees winless pair the Upper Hutt Rams and Norths square off at Maidstone.

Just two matches in Division 2 are going ahead tomorrow. Leaders Petone run out at home against Wainuiomata, who finally get to take to the field after their no-game against Wellington and then the bye last week, while Avalon head into the city to take on the Axemen at Hataitai. The third match between Pare-Plim and Johnsonville at Ngati Toa is off owing to the Covid outbreak in the latter club so both teams will receive three points, while after opening their account last Saturday Stokes Valley has the bye.

All six matches are scheduled to start at 1pm.

Colts Paris Memorial Trophy

The feature match in the age-grade is the only meeting of first-up winners with Petone and MSP clashing at the Petone Rec, while two other winners in the opening round are on the other side of the river as HOBM hosts Johnsonville on the Hutt Rec and Wainuiomata visit fellow valley side Avalon at Fraser Park. OBU get a run on Nairnville against Pare-Plim, and Tawa and Wellington look for their first win when they meet at Redwood. Poneke have the bye this round.

All five matches are 1pm kick-offs this week.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

Four sides have opened the lightweight season with a pair of wins, and they will be looking to press that home further tomorrow as they take on sides down the table. The Hutt Valley is the place to be for aficionados of the grade with five of the six matches happening there. Starting out east, Eastbourne will be looking to rebound and get their trophy defence back on track when hosting the Upper Hutt Rams at HW Shortt, Avalon are visited by Wellington at Fraser, surprise package Stokes Valley host Poneke at Delaney, HOBM are up against Johnsonville on the Hutt Rec, and Petone return home to take on MSP at the Petone Rec. The only match elsewhere is in the Ian Galloway cage where strugglers Wests host the OBU Scallywags.

All six matches are at 2.45pm this week.

College

Finally, Term Two means the start of college rugby in earnest. For last year’s Top Four, their campaign opens with the Tranzit Festival matches and the first week of those is at Porirua Park. In the early (11.30am) slot of matches Wellington College take on Gisborne Boys on the main field, while up on #2 Scots face Palmerston North Boys. The two St Patrick’s schools follow at 1pm, with Town up against Napier Boys on #1 and Silverstream facing Hastings Boys on the back field.

For 16 other sides, their quest to join those four in this year’s Premiership begins as well. In the top bracket Rongotai are at home against Wairarapa College who are looking to return after playing in Premier 2 last season, St Bernard’s host Upper Hutt College, Mana takes on Porirua in a local derby, and Hutt International and Aotea clash on Trentham Racecourse. In the lower bracket Bishop Viard hosts Wainuiomata and Tawa does likewise with Hutt Valley HS, while Naenae and Taita head up the coast to face Paraparaumu and Kapiti respectively.

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