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Club rugby set to soar in round four

Callum Watts-Pointer and Northern United were defeated by Marist St Pat’s last week. They cross the road to take on Poneke for the Cyril Collett Memorial Shield and in an important fourth round match for both sides. 

  • By Scott Maclean

Draws & teamlists for round 4 HERE

The quarter-mark on the Premier season gets reached tomorrow, and the respective standings of all 14 sides is starting to show out. There is much to play for, and much can change between now and the end of June. The Hurricanes bye in Super Rugby means that there’s a smattering of those players turning out in club colours as well.

It’s also the first full week of club rugby with all seven grades in competition action for the first time this season so it should be an entertaining day, even if the weather might not want to play ball.

Premier Swindale Shield

The ranks of the unbeatens were halved last week, and only one of those sides has a perfect 15-from-15 points tally three weeks in. That team is the Upper Hutt Rams who after a tough win over Pare-Plim first up, have largely made no race of their two matches since against Poneke and Wellington. They head down the valley tomorrow to take on one of those vanquished sides in Wainuiomata at William Jones, who would themselves be looking for a resurgent performance after being battered by Ories last round.

The home team get a boost with Peter Umaga-Jensen pulling on the green and black hoops as he gets minutes under his legs in his return from injury, while Dion Lealofi, Andrew Sa’u, and veteran Jason Love are all handed starting assignments. The Rams largely revert to the side that started two weeks ago against Poneke, though Senio Sanele and Devon Sopoaga hold their places and Toby Crosby, who missed that match, is at openside this week.

The other unbeaten side is Old Boys-University, who would have gained much belief from their win over Petone a week ago, and the return to their new grazing block at Rugby League Park for the visit of Avalon. The Goats will be happy with how they’re travelling but will be wary of a Wolves side that, despite being winless, have proved to be difficult to subdue so far this season.

OBU swaps out one Super Rugby player from another as Caleb Delany makes a now-rare appearance in their colours and effectively replaces Taine Plumtree in the side. It’s also a rejigged backline with Tom Henderson given the job of guiding the side against the park in the absence of Callum Harkin. Veteran Tomasi Palu offers insurance from the bench.

The Wolves have tweaked their backline, with Victor Misa moving from the midfield to halfback, Ezra Sione-Leota moving from wing to fullback and Jordan Aquila lining up at second five from fullback where he started the first three matches of the year.

After the two leaders, the feature game in terms of the table is out at Ngati Toa Domain where third-placed Tawa head to for a clash with fifth-placed Paremata-Plimmerton. The 2021 champions have shown, for five of the six halves this season anyway, that they’re still a force, but the face a rising one in the shape of the Hammerheads who are a very different side from years past. Recent Tawa management have looked at this fixture as being “an easy five points”, but it’s unlikely that will be the case tomorrow.

Pare-Plim again have the services of the destructive Pasilio Tosi and he lines up in the front row with the Coburn brothers, who face the team they’ve each played over 100 times for, and Dale Sabbagh lines up at first-five in the absence of Sam Clarke. Tawa have made several changes including the return of Siale Lauaki, and his battle at scrum-time with Tosi will be on interest. George Sims gets the start at halfback, and former Silverstream standout Tony Solomona starts at centre.

In terms of reputation, the highlight match is in at the other end of the union when Oriental Rongotai and Petone meet at the Polo Ground. Petone will be frustrated by their loss at home against OBU, but although they remain in good shape at this point in their Swindale defence they’ll be looking to respond. Ories have already dealt with that in their loss to Pare-Plim a fortnight ago and responded emphatically against Wainuiomata last week. It is one of the feature matches of the season, and little quarter will be asked for or given.

The Magpies have stuck with the same starting eight from last week, with Grayson Whitman handed the keys at first-five. The only other change sees Teni Tautua’a move into centre for Malachai Unasa and Sam Tautiaga coming onto the wing. Former Wellington College centre Johnny Maiava is in line for his club debut from the bench. The Villagers have both of their young guns in Peter Lakai and Riley Higgins, Logan Henry also starts, as does Stanley Solomon in the unfamiliar position of the left wing. Prop Ben Kershaw also makes his run-on debut.

Our next two matches are a short distance away through the Cutting. The first of these is an intriguing clash at Evans Bay between Marist St Pat’s and Johnsonville. The home team moved on quickly from their loss to Tawa the week before by putting Norths to the sword in the second half last Saturday and would back themselves to do similar this week. But this is a Johnsonville side that has some real belief, especially after obliterating HOBM last Saturday, and have already tasted success in the eastern suburbs this year after beating Poneke in the opener. There is also the fact that they won when the sides met last year.

There’s a return to MSP colours for Naitoa Ah-Kuoi who lines up on the blindside in the only change to their starting pack. Outside of that Zack Paterson starts in the #10 jersey with Andrew Wells absent this week after sustaining a leg injury in the warm-ups last Saturday. It’s a case of riding the hot hand for the Hawks who make just the one change in personnel with Aukuso Tuitama back at centre, moving Andrew Ellis to the wing and Finlay Sharp to the bench.

Across the road are two sides each searching for belief and some form before the season gets away from them. Poneke return to Kilbirnie Park having been humbled by Pare-Plim last week and where they’ve already been beaten by Johnsonville and Upper Hutt, and the furrowed expressions at Ngati Toa last Saturday said plenty. Northern United head back to the eastern suburbs after being across the road last Saturday, and while they do have one in the wins column, they desperately need to add to it less their hopes of being even able to defend their Jubilee Cup crown fade.

The home side can return Rhys Reiri and Maea Temu-Schmidt to their starting pack with skipper Andrew Jones lining up on the openside this week, while Caleb Robson’s return should help stabilise the backline. The visitors stick largely with the same side, though Dudley Parsons moves back into the #10 jersey with Faraimo Nofoaiga making his first appearance of the year outside of him.

And finally in this preview there’s the second clash amongst those at the foot of the table. With their feathers well and truly ruffled Hutt Old Boys Marist finally get to return to their Hutt Rec Nest. It’s perhaps fortunate that the only team with fewer competition points than themselves, Wellington, provide the opposition (though the Axemen have put up more points on the field than the Eagles have) and you would expect HOBM to sort themselves out given the personnel that they have on hand but almost anything seems possible at this point. For their part and despite last week’s humbling at the hooves of the Rams, the Axemen had much the better of the first 20 after the break when they got their hands on the ball and played directly and will fancy their chances of a win here.

As named, the hosts have included 200-game veteran Simon Malaeulu and centurion Glen Walters, who haven’t played a Premier match since 2019 and 2021 respectively. Lise Soloa also returns after missing the past two weeks with the trio being amongst a raft of changes. Wellington looks more settled after last week’s makeshift side with Matt Day back, and alongside him will be veteran Jeff Makapelu after his appearance at Maidstone.

Once again there are three interclub trophies being played for tomorrow:

  • Wainuiomata and Upper Hutt will contest the Peter Jones/Dave Ritchie Cup, named for two men were work colleagues at St Pats Silverstream and managers of the two Premier teams: Jones for Wainuiomata and Ritchie for Upper Hutt. It’s held by Wainuiomata after their one-point 23-22 win at Maidstone last year. Clubrugby also understand that Peter Jones has been in poor health recently and we wish him all the best for his recovery.
  • Ories and Petone play for their Jim Brown Memorial Trophy, which was donated by Brown’s employers Dominion Breweries following his passing in 2004. A Petone legend, Brown was a central figure in their dominance of the 1960s and 70s, a Wellington rep from 1965-74, and reputedly only denied a call-up to the All Blacks by a broken leg which still didn’t prevent him helping up with fundraising efforts for his beloved Villagers. Petone hold it after winning 37-35 in an absolute barnstormer last season.
  • Poneke and Norths meet for their Cyril Collett Memorial Shield. Collett played for the Kilbirnie side during the 1950’s with his sons Paul and Bruce both also turning red and black hoops as well as the white of Norths’ forerunner Porirua. Poneke hold it after their narrow 16-14 win early in last year’s campaign.

As normal, it’s a 2.45pm kickoff for all seven matches.

Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield

A full slate of 1pm kick-offs in the grade again this week. The unbeaten quintet will be looking to stretch their advantage further, but it seems likely that at least one will drop from those ranks as Ories and Petone meet in the game of the round out at the Polo Ground.

After running rampant over Avalon last week Tawa travel out to Ngati Toa to take on Pare-Plim who have topped 30 points the past two weeks but lost both matches, HOBM get on the Rec for the first time this year for the visit of Stokes Valley, while Poneke are back at Kilbirnie to take on Norths. The Upper Hutt Rams will be looking to close the gap when they head to William Jones to take on Wainuiomata, Marist St Pats welcomes Johnsonville to Evans Bay, and OBU and Avalon meet at Rugby League Park.

There is one interclub trophy in play here too as HOBM and Stokes Valley play for the Patterson Memorial Trophy. It was last played for in 2020 at this level when HOBM won, but since they neglected to take the trophy with them it’s resided at Delaney Park since. It was due to be played for at Under 85kg level last year, but that match never took place either.

Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

Women’s Draw and teamlists HERE

The third round of matches features a pair separated by Evans Bay Parade. On the east Marist St Pat’s meet the HOBM-Wainuiomata combined side on Evans Bay while over on west Poneke hosts Oriental-Rongotai on Kilbirnie Park. The other two matches are also local derbies as Paremata-Plimmerton meet Norths at Ngati Toa Domain, while across the Haywards unbeaten duo Avalon and Petone clash at Fraser Park.

As usual all four matches are 11.30am kick-offs

Colts Paris Memorial Trophy

After the early matches and having last week off, the Colts grade kicks into its competition season proper. The union has opted for a single-round format which might be good for simplicity but at Club Rugby we’re not sure if it’s good for the game at large.

That said, the grade does kick off with a couple of blockbusters. Defending champions Petone face an immediate challenge to their crown when they take on the upstart Upper Hutt Rams side out at Maidstone, while OBU and HOBM clash at Nairnville. There’s an eastern suburbs stoush at the Polo Ground with Ories taking on Wellington, a western bay’s one with Norths and Tawa meeting on the top fields at Porirua Park, and MSP make the trip out to Mary Crowther to take on Wainuiomata. Poneke have the bye in the opening week.

All five matches are 1pm kick-offs.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

The highlight clash in the lightweights tomorrow is at Lyndhurst Park where the returning Tawa side takes on defending grade champions Johnsonville. The OBU Scallywags have been the dominant side so far and they set sail for Petone to take on the Villagers there, while the almost-as free-scoring Poneke Wanderers are also in the Hutt Valley as they take on HOBM. The remaining two fixtures being played sees MSP meet Pare-Plim on Kilbirnie #3, while up the hill Wellington hosts Eastbourne at Hataitai.

Stokes Valley will remain unbeaten as Wests are unable to front this weekend and have defaulted.

All five matches are at the usual 2.45pm kick-off time.


In Horowhenua-Kapiti unbeaten leaders Rahui have the bye, so there’s an opportunity for the pack to catch up. Waikanae were well-beaten by the leaders last week and face a stern challenge at home against Levin COB this week, Foxton welcomes Paraparaumu to Easton Park, and Wanderers get the Levin Domain this week as they take on Shannon.

Over in Wairarapa-Bush the big winners in the first-round southern section Martinborough and Carterton meet in the wine hamlet while Greytown hosts Gladstone as both look to get on track after licking their wounds. In the north section winners Pioneer and Eketahuna meet, with East Coast and Marist looking to get on the board.

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