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Final round showdown for Swindale Shield

After meeting last week, Paremata-Plimmerton are back home tomorrow in a local derby encounter against Northern United, whilst the Rams are in town to meet the Wellington Axemen. 

  • By Scott MacLean and Steven White

Draws & teamlists (as received) HERE 

Friday late afternoon updates: Petone or Hutt Old Boys Marist?

One of those teams will be lifting the coveted first round Swindale Shield high into the afternoon sky at approximately 4.45pm tomorrow.

Petone’s and HOBM’s 13th and final first round matches against Wainuiomata and Marist St Pat’s are just two of several big games throughout club and college rugby tomorrow.

Tawa has their 75th Jubilee weekend, where they host Old Boys University, while there are other big matches for interclub trophies at Ngati Toa Domain and Helston Park respectively where it is Johnsonville Old Timers’ Day. It is also Old Timers’ Day at Hataitai Park, where the Wellington Axemen host the Upper Hutt Rams in the feature match.

The Colts and Presidents grades have this long-weekend off, resuming next Saturday.

We also congratulate HOBM hooker James O’Reilly and Johnsonville prop Ha’amea Ahio for playing their 100th Premier matches tomorrow.

In college rugby, Scots College’s 6-point points deduction this week (more details below) adds extra significance to their fifth round Premiership fixture against St Pat’s Town.

This weekend’s radio game on the E Tu Whanau Footy Show is Wainuiomata v Petone. Tune into 1161AM, 87.6FM around the city or stream via Apps iHeart Radio, WhareKorero or www.teupoko.co.nz.

Women’s

The Division 1 Women’s final was played this afternoon, between Marist St Pat’s and Northern United. We will carry a separate review of this game later on Friday. The final score was:

Premier Swindale Shield

So, it all comes down to tomorrow with just two teams left in the running to claim the Swindale Shield for themselves.

Petone (50) are in the box seat, as although they are tied on points with Hutt Old Boys Marist (50) they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker between the pair; few would have thought at the time that Tupou Sopoaga’s charge-down of Brandyn Laursen’s drop goal attempt and Sam Blackburn’s subsequent toe-ahead, regather, and score to win the McBain could prove to be as decisive in the season context as it might yet be.

The challenge for the Villagers is a straightforward one. Win and score four tries tomorrow against Wainuiomata (14) at William Jones and they will be presented with the trophy at full time; anything less will leave room that their great rivals could exploit.

The Eagles have the more difficult on-field challenge, as they welcome Marist St Pat’s (37) to the Hutt Rec. They can only control what they can but will certainly be keeping an eye on proceedings from over the Hill.

One thing that is certain is that no matter tomorrow’s results, Petone and HOBM will host next weekend’s “Top Four” matches which grant the winner a pass into the Jubilee Cup semi-finals and next weekend off.

As for the other two sides involved tomorrow, Wainuiomata would like to make things difficult at the least for Petone but cannot themselves improve their own position and tomorrow could well be their last outing at William Jones for the year. MSP are assured of being in next week’s Jubilee Cup playoffs, but to make those top four places or even to host one of the knockout clashes will require something to go their way elsewhere.

Petone’s match-day 22 is similar to the one they put out last week, notable returnees to the starting XV include Tupou Sopoaga at No. 8 and Pek Cowan at loosehead prop. Ben Brooking returns to fullback after scoring four tries last week and Jacib Tainui is set for this Premier debut in the outside back reserves.

Once again, Wainuiomata will be relying on a whole lot of heart and their key players to see off Petone’s quest for the first round title. These players include hooker Dion Lealofi flanker Matt Jacobs, No. 8 Teru Time and midfielders Niko Patelesio and Campbell Cowie. The indefatigable Uale Mai comes off their bench tomorrow.

Also on the line for the first time in this contest is the ‘The Les Everson Memorial Goblet’,  to be presented annually to the Player of the Match between Petone and Wainuiomata and will be presented this Saturday in the Wainuiomata Clubrooms during after match celebrations. Life Member Les Everson passed away at the end of January this year. Les had a successful playing, coaching and administration career with Petone but is best known to today’s members as a tireless volunteer, avid Red Wine drinker and very loved Husband of fellow Life Member Marie.

The HOBM Eagles appear to be close to full strength for tomorrow’s clash. Jordan Gillies starts at blindside flanker and Ben Power moves to No. 8, with James O’Reilly starting at hooker in his 100th match for the club. Anthony Utanga is at first five, with Brandyn Laursen starting in the 12 position. Amongst a couple of other changes from the team that beat OBU last week, Fereti Soloa comes in on the left wing for Fritz Rayasi.

MSP have made some five changes to their starting XV from the side that beat Wainuiomata in round 12. They will look to their experienced players to run their ship, such as loose forwards James Tuia, No. 8 Keelan Whitman, first five Andrew Wells and fullback and MSP women’s coach Ryan Setefano. Valentine Meachen comes off the bench with Ano Kapeli starting at hooker.

Elsewhere, the race is on for those other top four places, or the consolation of hosting next weeks knockout clashes. Their loss last week might have eliminated them from Swindale contention, but Poneke (44) remain the most likely side to be one of them. They again head into the Hutt Valley, this time to Fraser Park where they’ll face an Avalon (12) side still searching for their first win on their new home field and would love to have at least some impact on the Jubilee race.

Thomas Kirwara returns to the starting line-up at first five for Avalon tomorrow, in a team with a handful of positional and personnel changes from last Saturday. A couple of other changes to note include Boxier Fauena starting at openside flanker and Pena Sione at second five outside Kiwara. Hooker Damon Tafatu is on debut.

Poneke have made a few changes to their team from last week, with Antonio Vaka replacing George Jacobs at prop and 200-gamer Cole Stewart making this first Premier start since 2020 at lock. James Mose is at No. 8 and captain Galu Taufale at blindside flanker. In the backs, Josh Wilson returns to first five and Pakai Turia to fullback. Esene Marsters-Moananu is in line for a Premier debut off the bench.

Norths (41) have become the team no one wants to face, even before last weekend’s evisceration of the Axemen. They make the short trip up SH59 to take on Paremata-Plimmerton (25) for the Porirua derby, and where both sides have something to play for. For Norths its one of those top four places – something that seemed out of the question two months ago – and a bonus point win will seal that regardless, while for the Hammerheads there’s that first ever Premier success over their neighbours and assuring themselves of the best possible seeding for the Hardham playoffs next week.

A few tweaks to the Paremata-Plimmerton line-up from that which met the Rams last week, mostly in the forwards. Last week’s No. 8 and Hurricane  Pasilio Tosi is injureds, whilst a couple of other players are injured or on their sick beds. Tane McMillan-Parata moves there from blindside, while Jabez Peniata comes into lock and AJ Foe is set for a Premier debut at hooker.

Visitors Norths have Du Plessis Kirifi in their line-up tomorrow. The Hurricane starts in his favoured position of openside flanker. Callum Watts-Pointer and Luca Rees fill the other loose forward roles, while Jackson Garden-Bachop returns to first five. No Losi Filipo this week, but a handy replacement on the starting right wing in Ropati Sooalo who scored two tries last week.

Two other sides that also have top four hopes are Tawa (39) and Old Boys-University (41), who meet at Lyndhurst in the feature game of the hosts 75th Jubilee celebrations. For each of them though, that relies on winning and Norths or Poneke losing, so perhaps an immediate goal will be having home advantage for next week, while the loser could very easily find themselves heading away for a knockout clash.

Tawa will look to their front row tomorrow to subdue the visitors. Hurricanes U20 hooker Joyner Gaualofa moves to the loosehead position, with Lotu Nuku coming in to start at hooker and PJ Sheck on the tighthead side. Out wide, Hurricanes U20 centre Isileli Saumaki could be dangerous, while Hurricane Pepesana Patafilo comes off the bench.

In contrast, OBU have switched out their front row from last week’s defeat to HOBM, with Laurence Jarel Lim, James Holbrook and Henry Allen the starting front rankers and Valentine Parker on debut off the bench. Key players for OBU tomorrow include No. 8 Dom Ropeti, halfback Kyle Preston, who played for Tawa in 2018 and 2019, and fullback Callum Harkin. Jayden Webb-Milner makes his Premier debut on the right wing.

We’ve touched on MSP’s hopes above, but the last side in the top eight are Oriental Rongotai (38). Ories are a very longshot for those top-four places, but a bonus-point win against Johnsonville (23) at Helston would likely see them leapfrog the loser of the game at Lyndhurst and host one of the knockout matches next week while a loss would see them on the road. The Hawks can’t be caught for where they stand, but a win would see them improve their place ahead of the Hardham seeding matches.

Johnsonville welcome back from injury No. 8 Ofa Ueseli, halfback Mark Sutton and first five Levi Grace; their pack, led by centurion Ha’amea Ahio, can secure enough front foot ball their backs could be extremely dangerous with the likes of Olly Paotonu, Aukuso Tuitama, Marzy Karim, Nial Delahunt and Jacob Walmsley at fullback waiting to pounce on their Old Timers’ Day.

The #13 bus will be pulling up outside Helston Park tomorrow, with Julian Savea taking the field for the first time this season at centre for Ories. He plays outside the veteran Paulo Aukuso and with Skivi Va’a on the left wing and Pena Va’a at fullback playing his 50th Premier match. The Ories pack includes such players as props Alex Fidow, Whetu Henty and Sione Halalilo. Long-serving halfback Sean Hay is on the bench.

Finally, the Upper Hutt Rams (22) head to the city to take on Wellington (1) at Hataitai in the only match south of the Ngauranga Interchange. Potentially the Rams could go past both Johnsonville and Pare-Plim into ninth, which if that came to pass would mean these two would meet again next weekend out at Maidstone.

Home outfit the Axemen will be hoping for a stirring victory on their Old Timers’ Day, and have named a similar side to previous weeks. Halfback Will Cosgriff is a key player, while James Coburn returns to the 22 after a week off.

Similarly, the Rams backs are mostly settled, with some positional tweaks made for the most part.  But some changes to their pack, including swapping out their entire front row, tomorrow’s bookend trio consisting of props Sean Rankin and Franciso Wilson and hooker Eli Hunt. Mason Davis drops into lock for Aiden Woodward and Toby Crosby moves to blindside for Sio Fidow and Josh Hunt for Dan Schrijvers at openside. Pene To’o makes his starting debut for the Rams at No. 8.

There are more interclub trophies on the line tomorrow, including:

  • The Father Cleary Shield between Hutt Old Boys Marist and Marist St Pat’s commemorates the late Father Tom Cleary, a sportsmaster and well known first XV coach at St. Pat’s College, Wellington and one of the founders of the St. Pat’s College Old Boys RC. It was donated by the Roche family for competition between Marist and St. Pat’s. Following the amalgamation, the trophy briefly fell into disuse. It was revived in 1974 for competition between MSP and Hutt Valley Marist, not HOBM.
  • The Ash Pointon Cup between Johnsonville and Oriental-Rongotai. Ash Pointon played over 250 combined Premier games for Ories and Johnsonville throughout the 1980s and 1990s and coached Ories teams into the 2000s. He sadly passed away in May 2017, aged 56. His 167 games for Ories stood as a club record for 30 years. He first joined Ories in 1980, out of Rongotai College. He started his playing career at lock and moved to No. 8 and then blindside flanker. He transferred to Johnsonville and finished his playing career as a Swindale Shield winner with the Hawks in 1997.
  • The Ivan Hardgrave Trophy between Paremata-Plimmerton and Northern United. Ivan Hardgrave was an active club rugby administrator for the Titahi Bay RFC then the Northern United RFC.  Ivan was also a Porirua City Councillor and put up this trophy to be played between the local Western Bays RFC’s of Porirua, Titahi Bay, Paremata-Plimmerton and Tawa. Now just between Norths and Paremata-Plimmerton.
  • The Darren Larsen Cup between Wainuiomata and Petone. With strong ties to both clubs over many years, this trophy was presented to both clubs by former Wainuiomata front rower Darren Larsen, who is well known as a leading club and representative coach in and around Wellington and as a former WRFU Academy Manager and current Hurricanes Recruitment and Development Manager.

Premier 2 Ed Chaney and HD Morgan Memorial Cups

Two sides are two-from-two in the Ed Chaney, and both get to enjoy home surrounds for the weekend. Holders Tawa are back at Lyndhurst where they’ll face OBU, while HOBM take on their Marist counterparts MSP in the early game at the Hutt Rec. Promoted Avalon host Poneke in the early match at Fraser, while Norths and Ories meet in a standalone contest at Porirua Park.

The HD Morgan matches tomorrow have leaders Stokes Valley returning home to host Pare-Plim in the late timeslot at Delaney Park, while before that Wainuiomata and Petone clash in the early game at William Jones and Johnsonville and the Upper Hutt Rams meet at Newlands Park.

Colts Paris Memorial

No Colts round this weekend, but there is still one match being played with HOBM hosting Wainuiomata in a game deferred from two weeks ago.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

The lightweights are rapidly approaching the end of their round robin play, and the number of teams that can claim the JC Bowl are dwindling and the pressure goes on as only the top-four sides will get the opportunity to play for the championship Paul Potiki Shield, and by coincidence the current top-four amongst themselves tomorrow.

As mentioned earlier in the week, the resolution of earlier games means that Johnsonville have assumed the lead, but they face the challenge of third-placed Stokes Valley as they meet in the early game at Helston. The Upper Hutt Rams are second but also unbeaten like the Hawks, and their assignment tomorrow has them at fourth-place side Poneke on Kilbirnie Park.

Elsewhere the OBU Scallywags and Eastbourne will look to move firmly into that mix when they host Petone at Nairnville and MSP at HW Shortt, Avalon’s title defence is all but over but host winless Wests at Fraser Park, while HOBM have already defaulted to Wellington.

College

A full round of College Rugby with a handful of matches being played today. In the Premiership the news this week is that a player eligibility breach by Scots has seen them docked their points from their matches against Wellington College and Rongotai, with the full five points in each case granted – by rule – to those teams. On the field the fifth round kicked off on Wednesday with Rongotai producing a stunning comeback to defeat Wellington College 25-24 and register their third win in that contest in the last four years, and further shake up the ladder. Tomorrow’s matches see Silverstream head down the valley to take on St Bernard’s, Mana make the long haul to Masterton to face Wairarapa College, and Scots will have no choice but to put the news of the week behind them when they head to Evans Bay for an eastern suburbs derby with St Pat’s Town, which is being carried live on Sky Sport. Hutt International has this rounds bye.

In Premier 2 joint-leaders the Silverstream 2nds are up early at home against Paraparaumu, followed by Taita and Naenae contesting their Avalon Cup match at Fraser Park, and the Town and Wellington College 2nds providing the curtain-raiser at Evans Bay. The two late games have the other joint-leader, Upper Hutt, down the valley to play Hutt Valley HS, while across the hills Bishop Viard hosts Aotea in a western bays derby.

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