Poneke celebrate their extra time Hardham Cup final win over Petone in 2021.
In the lead-up to the 2023 season, Club Rugby is running a series on social media called Feverish Finishes.
A look at some of the many crazy finishes and roaring comebacks in Wellington club rugby in recent years – of which there have been many.
These will also be posted here in a three series – plus a handful of other ones not going up on social media re-posted an article posted on our ‘old’ website several years ago called Sizzling Comebacks.
The 2023 Swindale Shield starts on Saturday 1 April.
OBU pip Petone in extra time Colts decider in the rain
The extra time 2021 Colts Final in the torrential rain for the John E Kelly Cup, won by Old Boys Green 25-21 over Petone.
The last of five lead changes occurred 15 minutes into extra time, and with Petone leading 21-18. OBU won a scrum five metres out from the line.
Initially the students buckled, skidding rapidly into retreat. Somehow, they swiftly reground, cradling the ball in tight and low to the ground speared through Petone like an unstoppable submarine to take the lead 23-21. The try was claimed by replacement Soane Fakahau and the conversion added by fullback Tomasi Connor.
Petone railed, as they often did, left, right, fast hands, rumbling runs, blissfully ignorant of the horrid conditions. An appeal for a try. Held up was the call and the students clung on for a fourth consecutive title.
Petone would go one better in 2022 when they beat Hutt Old Boys Marist in the decider in considerably more benign conditions.
The extra time Hardham Cup final.
Poneke ended 2021 with a seventh consecutive victory to capture the Hardham Cup for a sixth time, beating Petone 32-24.
With time up in regulation Petone failed to clear the ball into touch. Poneke built phases, advanced ahead, and eventually reserve forward James Mose muscled over beside the posts to make it 24-22. The conversion was kicked by first-five Pakai Turia and the game was extended for 20 minutes.
In the additional period. Extra Time here, play continued to be as tight as it has been for first 80 minutes, before Poneke eventually hit a penalty to go up 27-24 and then scored the match-winner with a couple of minutes to play in the far-left corner of play.
Norths start 2019 Swindale Shield with slashing late win over OBU
A blockbuster early season fixture at Porirua Park between Northern United and Old Boys University – in a re-match of the previous year’s Jubilee Cup final (won 37-31 by OBU).
The Premier 2 curtain-raiser was a 19-19 draw and this Premier Swindale Shield match appeared heading the same way. But Esi Komaisavai intercepted a pass and shot 60 metres to score the match-winner with the last play of the game, and 25-25 became a 30-25 win to Norths to open their season.
Earlier, the Billygoats had taken a 15-10 lead into halftime, taking their only two clear chances of the half to score from forwards drives. Norths lit up their home ground right after the break with a turnover on their own side of halfway and a classic breakout and try to left wing TK Bishop. This put Norths in front 17-15. OBU replied with their third try, second five-eighth Izzy Foai supporting his forwards and rumbling over. OBU were now ahead 22-17. Right wing Junior Time Taotua answered for Norths to make it 22-22, before Komaisavai and Dale Sabbagh exchanged penalties.
2021 First XV semi-Final – Silverstream send Wellington College packing with 33-32 win
St Pat’s Silverstream drew 36-36 with Scots College in the 2021 First XV final at Wellington Stadium, but first had to defeat Wellington College in their semi-final. Their 33-32 win was achieved in the final play of the match when midfielder Emmanuel Solomona called for the kicking tee and slotted the winning penalty 35 metres out and from near the touchline at neutral Hataitai Park.
Down 30-32, Silverstream win their last-ditch penalty and the kick never looks like missing, to the joy of their supporters and despair of Wellington College’s. Sillverstream had only missed one final from the previous 12 semi-finals, and they had the edge at halftime with a 17-10 lead. Wellington College
Wellington seized control after the break, wing Josh Williams was denied a try and then scored one.
No.8 Ashton Teau’s sudden 25-metre burst, following a change of direction from a retreating scrum, put them up 32-23. Silverstream hit back with a try to No. 8 Toby Crosby, but time was seemingly against them before the winning penalty chance at the very end.
Petone snatch 2022 semi-final win over Tawa
With 80 minutes showing on the scoreboard clock at the Petone Rec, reigning champions Tawa appeared headed to another Jubilee Cup final.
Though only ahead 12-8, Tawa had entrenched themselves inside the Petone 22 for the entire last quarter.
But Petone had once last shot, earning a penalty and working their way up field, wing Richard ‘Squid’ Evans missing the tryline by a nostril hair and Tawa were now hanging on desperately. Petone fullback Ben Brooking described what happened next:
“I thought Squid (Richard Evans) scored. How close can you get? We could see the gaps opening up. When Carne (Green) passed me the ball I knew it was on. I had to keep my cool, and not drop it.”
Ben dived further than he ran. The euphoria of his winning moment, an expression for a collective self-belief that defined Petone’s season in 2022. Three times won games from oblivion. Did Brooking think Petone would lose?
“Nah not really. We’ve done it quite a few times this year. We’re a good bunch of guys who work hard for each other, trust our leaders, and default to our process and systems when we’re under pressure.”
With this 15-12 victory, Petone went on to meet Norths in the following week’s final, Norths winning the decider.
Blackburn seals it with fulltime try in 2022 ‘McBain Miracle’ epic
A McBain Shield Miracle. Petone never leads until the 84th minute, and when the winning moment arrives it is dubbed a miracle.
The HOBM pack hammers away at the Petone line and positions Brayden Laursen for the winning dropped goal, straight in front of the posts five metres out. Laursen snaps the ball only to be met by a full-length dive from Tupou Sopoaga. How the No.8 could get airborne and block the ball is beyond normal logic. The ball rolls into vacant pasture and Petone reserve back Sam Blackburn dribbles it to halfway, dribbles it to the 22 and the ball bounces into his chest; Blackburn running into McBain folklore. Final score: 27-20.
Plus these ones as well:
2 April 2022: Kapeli snaffles fulltime winner over Tawa
In a replay of the previous season’s Jubilee Cup final (won by Tawa), home team Marist St Pat’s and Tawa fought out a season-opening thriller at Evans Bay Park.
MSP crossed for the match-winning try in dramatic circumstances with time almost up on the clock.
Replacement halfback Ken Kapeli burst through Tawa’s defence from an attacking scrum to score the winning try and second five James Proctor added the extras to seal what could prove to be a vital victory in the coming weeks.
Both sides had kicked penalties after Tawa had taken the lead for the first time on 55 minutes, but Tawa were unable hold on, and MSP won 24-21.
7 May 2022: Norths snatch fulltime winner over Rams
Northern United’s dramatic 31-30 win over the Upper Hutt Rams proved a catalyst for kick-starting their season into gear, and they would go on to win the Jubilee Cup.
The match at Maidstone Park for the Terry Farrow Memorial Cup came alive with about 20 minutes to play.
Norths came back from a 30-17 deficit with two tries after sustaining a red card.
Centre Losi Filipo’s second try of the game made it 30-24 to the Rams, before Norths got themselves back into the 22 and created pressure with phase play, before an all-in pile-up of bodies over the line resulted in lock Boston Hunt, coming up with the try. First five Dale Sabbagh added the conversion and Norths took the one-point win.
Luca Rees (Norths) says hello to Dan Schrijvers (UHR) in this epic clash.
4 June 2022: A Woolley finish for Poneke supporters
At Maidstone Park, Rams supporters went home heartbroken for the fourth time in the 2022 season (see above), with Poneke snatching victory deep into injury time in front of a big Upper Hutt crowd.
Replacement debutant wing Wade Woolley raced over to score the match-winner in injury time for a 26-24 win.
Poneke started and finished the match with a hiss and a roar. They scored their first try in the second minute to right wing Psalms Latu, converted by first five Pakai Turia.
The Rams replied with two unconverted tries in the ninth and 16th minutes to go up 10-7. They extended their lead to 13-7 just before halftime with a penalty. They also missed out on scoring another two tries through knock-ons near the whitewash.
Poneke inched ahead by a point when halfback Jordan Hoerara scored a converted try 10 minutes into the second spell, but the Rams scored their third try to go up 18-14.
The lead changed twice more before the end, with the replacement Poneke midfielder Caleb Robson crossing for a seven-pointer to put his side in front 21-18, followed by consecutive Rams penalties to see them in front 24-21 before Wolley’s late heroics for the Streetkids.