You are here
Home > Club Rugby > Stakes high in knockout club rugby on Saturday

Stakes high in knockout club rugby on Saturday

  • By Scott MacLean and Steven White

Jubilee Cup draw and teams HERE

Hardham Cup draw and teams HERE 

There is much riding on tomorrow’s six Premier club rugby matches around the Wellington region.

For the winners of the two Jubilee Cup matches and four Hardham Cup games, it’s on to the semi-finals next weekend, while for the losers it’s the end of the line and sandcastles at the beach and the summer break beckons.

The winners of the two Jubilee Cup games will play already confirmed top four protagonists Petone and Hutt Old Boys Marist in next week’s semi-finals, whilst all four Hardham Cup fixtures serve as virtual quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, it is the final round of the U85kg division first round competition and the round-robin Premier 2, Division 2, and college rugby heats up before the school holidays recess including a feature First XV clash between Scots College and St Pat’s Silverstream.

This week’s radio commentary game comes from Porirua Park with the Jubilee Cup match between Norths and MSP. Tune into 1161AM, 87.6FM, iHeart Radio or with Gordon Noble-Campbell and Mike Parker.

Club Rugby also congratulates a group of players reaching milestones tomorrow, including Daley Ena (50 games for Avalon), Keelan Whitman (50 for MSP) and Ken Kapeli (100 for MSP).

A fair bit of rain about this weekend too, which could be a factor.

Premier Jubilee Cup

Just two matches on tomorrow, both win-or-go-home encounters. For the winners they’ll move onto next week’s semi-finals, while the loser’s seasons are done.

Out at Kilbirnie Park the holders of two of the three pieces of Premier silverware clash as current Hardham Cup winners Poneke (3) meet defending Jubilee Cup champions Tawa (6) for the right to play Petone next week. Few would doubt that Poneke have been the surprise side of 2022 and have ground and grafted their way into this position, and if for better fortune would have beaten HOBM last weekend and got this weekend off. However, they face the challenge of a side in Tawa that knows exactly what to do at this time of year and is one of only two sides to have lowered Poneke’s colours this year having done so 29-21 on this same ground just three weeks ago and impressively dispatched OBU last Saturday.

For the home team, the home side didn’t have the services of Pakai Turia in that loss to Tawa, and won’t have him tomorrow either. Josh Wilson stays at first five and Nick Robertson moves to fullback. Caleb Robson starts in the midfield with Ben Huntley for El-nino Peniamina who he replaced during the first half last week and the winning try-scorer from their Rams win, Wade Wolley, comes on to the bench. Big addition in the forwards with Hurricanes U20s lock Maea Tema-Schmidt coming back from injury and taking his place in the pack. Cole Stewart returns to the bench. Jimmy Hewitt trades places with Conor Strang off the pine at openside flanker.

As named, Tawa have selected an identical team from last week with the same 22 that ran through OBU. Perhaps their biggest injury loss heading into the business end of the season is Hemi Fermanis, but his brother TJ at No. 8 heads an experienced group of players preparing for this match.

The second elimination match is at Porirua Park with Norths (4) taking on Marist St Pat’s (8) and each looking to survive another week to face Hutt Old Boys Marist. Even with all the experience in their ranks Norths will have learned plenty from last week where they leapt out to a handy lead against Petone but were unable to stem the Village tide. On the other side MSP will be buoyed by having defied the standings once again and sending Ories to the Hardham Cup and will not be short of confidence. Their Swindale meeting came five weeks ago with Norths winning 34-26.

Norths welcome back three of their leading players for this match. Hurricanes pair, openside flanker Du Plessis Kirifi and Jackson Garden-Bachop, return from a wedding and right-wing Losi Filipo comes back from a short stint out with injury. Centre TK Bishop starts at centre in his 99th Premier match. The tight five is unchanged from that which missed out to Petone last week.

MSP have made few changes to their match-day 22 from the side that beat Ories last week. Tietie Tuimauga comes in to play at tighthead prop, alongside loosehead Tui Tuia and hooker Valentine Meachen and with Meinrad Fitsemanu missing from the line-up. Centurion Ken Kapeli is at halfback and half-century maker Keelan Whitman at No.8.  Andrew Wells starts his eighth consecutive game at first five.

Premier Hardham Cup

Conversely, there’s four games in the Hardham Cup though the same win-or-done situation applies.

On one side of the bracket are Oriental Rongotai (5), who will have to dust themselves off after the disappointment of being eliminated from the Jubilee Cup last week. However, as the highest-seeded side dropping down they get to face the lowest-ranked team of last week’s losing side, the winless Wellington Axemen (14) who were handily beaten by the Upper Hutt Rams last week and face an even bigger challenge this time around. Form suggests the Magpies win this at home on Polo #2 in a canter, but can the Axemen produce what would be one of the more monumental upsets in Wellington club rugby? For the record their meeting six weeks ago saw Ories win 53-5.

If so, they will have to contain Julian Savea on the right wing for Ories, and others such as new Wellington Lions Sione Halalilo at No. 8 and veteran tighthead prop Whetu Henry. Ories have made a few other small changes to their line-up from last week’s loss, such as Jake Hamlin starting at first five and Saia Paese dropping back to fullback with Ethan Webster-Nonu missing. Up front, Poasa Poasa comes in at hooker for his brother Penieli and Victor Groom starts his first game at lock for several weeks.

The Axemen have brought back Tony Coburn from three weeks off to play hooker, alongside his brother James and Joe Reid as the props. Ben Hendry starts at openside flanker and player-coach Jason Bird at blindside. Will Cosgriff shows his versatility by starting at first five for Matt Day – Cosgriff’s third position in as many weeks after halfback and fullback. Some regular players in the backs but only four spots filled on the bench.

The other match on this side is out at Ngati Toa Domain. Paremata-Plimmerton (10) arrested their slide in beating Avalon, while Wainuiomata (12) improved their position by beating Johnsonville leading to the two sides meeting tomorrow. It’ll be the fifth straight week that Pare-Plim have been at home and they’ll be looking to cash in on that but know they’ll need to be better than they were against a Wolves side that played nearly an hour with just 14, while Wainuiomata will be looking to upset the home hopes and reverse the 22-15 win to Pare-Plim at William Jones in the midpoint of the season.

Injury strikes once more for Paremata-Plimmerton with captain James Corcoran out after breaking his arm against Avalon, so Jabez Peniata steps in to lock tomorrow. Mitch Taupau gets the start at openside with a whole swap of the front row from last week. In the backs Esi Komaisavai pushes up to centre with Blake Neve returning at fullback. Tane McMillan-Parata seems likely to lead from openside flanker in the side in Corcoran’s absence.

Likewise, visitors Wainuiomata have more injuries, without experienced hooker Dion Lealofi out with a fractured rib. Pau Sakai comes on to the bench as front cover and will be Wainuiomata’s 19th debutant this year should he take the field. Their playing squad for this match is otherwise little changed from that which beat Johnsonville last week, aided by the return of Niko Patelesio who comes in on the right wing.

Across on the opposite side of the bracket Old Boys-University (7) will, like Ories, must pick themselves up from last week’s loss and elimination from the Jubilee Cup. They return to their Nairnville grazing block where Avalon (13) are the visitors. The Goats simply weren’t given any freedom at all by Tawa last Saturday, so will look to throw off the shackles and express themselves. The Wolves came close to tipping over Pare-Plim and have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of in recent weeks but will need to be at their very best to spring an upset here. You have to go all the way back to Easter for their previous meeting this term, with OBU winning that 39-13 on a cool Thursday night on the Fraser Park turf.

The Billygoats go into this fxture with veteran Tomasi Palu at second five, making his first Premier start since mid-2018. He plays outside of Callum Harkin who switches places with tomorrow’s fullback Tom Henderson. OBU are missing Taine Plumtree, Caleb Delany and Josh Gimblett from last week but Dom Ropeti takes his place at No. 8.

Visitors Avalon have rotated through some positional changes to their team from last week, but for the most part the personnel is the same. The Wolves will be looking for big shifts in the forwards from their experienced players, such as captain and prop Daley Ena playing his 50th Premier game for them, No. 8 Chris Lafaele in his blazer game and locks Teofilo Paulo and Akuila Alatini.

The final match of this part of the preview is at Maidstone Park where the Upper Hutt Rams (9) and Johnsonville (11) meet at this stage and venue for the second year in succession. Last year’s meeting came in those monsoon-like conditions that essentially flooded that ground (and many others around the region) and saw Johnsonville swim away with a 20-15 win. Unlike last year where the Hawks improved their position the week before they’ve dropped down this time around after last week’s loss, but they’ll still be looking for that same outcome. The Rams have feasted on tries the past three weeks and will be looking to do so once more as they look to emulate Poneke’s run last season. Their earlier meeting saw the Rams snatch a late 21-all draw at Helston back in the fifth week of the year.

The Rams will look to continue their high energy game, with their all-action loose forward trio of Sio Fidow, Dan Schrijvers and Toby Crosby leading the way and another some-time loosie Jack Wright starting at lock tomorrow too. Expect plenty of tries through their attacking backs with the Svenson brothers and fullback Tynan Barrett to the fore.

Up front, visitors Johnsonville bring back Sam Green from injury, to play just his second of 11 games this year at lock. A couple of other small changes to the forwards, while Mark Sutton drops back to halfback and Nial Delahunt comes in to first five from fullback. Jed Mitchell plays fullback this week, in a dangerous backline that includes midfidlers Olly Paotonu and Aukuso Tuitama and wings Marzy Karim and Knox Tuinasau.

Premier 2 Ed Chaney and HD Morgan Memorial Cups

No change at the top of the Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup as a dominant Tawa continues to lead the way, and they get another weekend at home at Lyndhurst this time for the visit of Avalon. Norths have moved into second and they head back into the Hutt Valley for a meeting with HOBM at the Hutt Rec while elsewhere Ories and MSP meet at Polo and winless OBU look to get on the board when they host Poneke at Nairnville.

It’s the final round of matches in the six-team Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial, and Stokes Valley will be looking to make it a clean sweep when they host the Upper Hutt Rams at Delaney Park, while Petone will look to take advantage of any slip-up by the leaders when they face winless Pare-Plim at Ngati Toa. The third match sees Johnsonville and Wainuiomata clash at Helston.

There is an interclub trophy on the line in the Stokes Valley – Upper Hutt Rams fixture. These teams contest the Snow Buchanan Cup, as the highest grade the two clubs meet in this year.

Colts Paris Memorial

Three rounds remain before the playoffs and after last week Petone (36*) now have a six-point lead but are also yet to have the bye with their assignment tomorrow is a meeting with Wellington (21) at Hataitai. After their mauling at the hands of HOBM last week, OBU (30) will need to rebound when they face Tawa (18) at Redwood/Lyndhurst while the Eagles (28) are off to Ngati Toa and a meeting with fifth-placed Paremata-Plimmerton (24). MSP (25) sit fourth but have the bye this week while the remaining matches feature sides towards the bottom of the ladder with Wainuiomata (10*) taking on Poneke (5) at William Jones, and Johnsonville (3) hosting Avalon (7) at Newlands Park.

(*denotes yet to have the bye)

Under 85kg JC Bowl

The lightweight grade reaches their first-round conclusion, before moving into their second round.  The news in the grade is that with NZ Rugby setting the final of the National Club Cup as the curtain raiser to the All Blacks Test against Argentina on September 3rd, it’s caused something of a fixtures crunch for WRFU to get through their games. That has forced a move away from the original planned format for the top 8 teams so expect to hear more on this in coming days, though the plan for the bottom four remains unchanged.

On the field Johnsonville have already secured the JC Bowl and will be presented with it following their home match at Helston against the Upper Hutt Rams who will be looking to put the Hawks’ winning run to an end. The format change gives new life for the grade championship hopes of defending titleholders Avalon, who host Poneke, and to both Wellington and Eastbourne who meet at Hataitai. Elsewhere Stokes Valley and HOBM clash at Delaney for the Patterson Memorial Trophy (as per the rules this is the first meeting between these two clubs in any grade. the OBU Scallywags set sail for Kilbirnie Park and a meeting with MSP, and Wests and Petone meet at Ian Galloway both already assured of heading to the bottom four alongside the two Marist teams.


College rugby reaches its last week before they break for the school holidays.

With no midweek games this week, all four matches in the Premiership are on tomorrow. The highlight clash is out in Strathmore where the co-defending champions Scots and Silverstream clash, while Wellington College should keep pace at the very least when they take on winless Mana out in Elsdon. There’s an eastern suburbs derby when Rongotai hosts St Pats Town, while Wairarapa come over the hill to face Hutt International in Trentham. St Bernard’s, who beat New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas 22-20 in their meeting on Wednesday, have the bye this round.

In Premier 2 leaders the Silverstream 2nds have a home match with Taita, with fellow unbeatens Upper Hutt – who progressed to the Coed Cup final midweek after beating Premier 3 side Newlands 62-0- heading to the city to face the Town 2nds. Bishop Viard, who retained the Beard Trophy for the summer after winning 24-21 over Aotea, are at home against Naenae, the Wellington College 2nds host Aotea, and Hutt Valley HS welcome Paraparaumu.

For the most part college rugby has the next two weekends off, with Premiership rugby resuming on the 27th with the Town vs Silverstream Traditional clash.

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply