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Busy day for community rugby tomorrow, as Swindale Shield reaches its halfway mark

  • By Scott MacLean

Draws & Teamlists for Saturday 13 May HERE 

Updated: At full-time tomorrow the halfway mark of the Swindale Shield will be in the past, and the Premier and Premier 2 tables will be in a state that tells the truth about how the various sides have travelled so far. Elsewhere there’s rugby up and down the grades, with the Women’s first-round reaching a critical stage in particular.

Tomorrow’s radio commentary broadcast comes from Helston Park for Johnsonville v Paremata Plimmerton. kick off 2:45pm and air from 2.00pm with previews and all things rugby. Te Upoko o TE Ika Radio, 1161AM and 87.6FM around the city, and streaming Whare Korero and iHeart Radio Apps.

Premier Swindale Shield

A series of high-profile fixtures headline this week’s slate of matches.

Despite losing last week, the Upper Hutt Rams kept their place at the top of the standings. But if they want to stay there and retain the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy they won off Norths two weeks ago, they’ll need to stave off the visit of Petone who come up the valley full of confidence after a big win over Tawa last Saturday. The Rams became the side that HOBM seemingly found their groove against, but they’ll take that as something of a reality check that things aren’t going to be as straightforward as they have been so far.

The match-up to watch here is the clash of two former Silverstream No.8s, with 2020’s Peter Lakai for Petone against 2021’s Toby Crosby for the Rams. Nic Apikatoa comes into the Rams front row, flyer Jono Ryan displaces Fritz Rayasi to the bench, where he’s joined by veteran Josh Hunt providing midfield cover. Logan Henry is with the Canes this week so Cam Ferreira reclaims the halfback spot with the backline otherwise unchanged for the Villagers, so Stanley Solomon will have the opportunity to add to his six tries in the past two weeks.

When Johnsonville and Paremata-Plimmerton have met it’s usually been to try and avoid the wooden spoon; in fact, there is an unofficial trophy introduced by the Pare-Plim “Good Buggers” that goes to the loser. That’s not the case this year with the Hammerheads having jointed the Rams as joint-top and the Hawks flying in joint-fifth with both having accumulated an impressive list of victories so far this year. While a loss here won’t be fatal to their hopes of making the Jubilee Cup, there’s a more immediate prize that’s in their sights and that’s the Swindale Shield.

The Hawks make just one change from the side that took down OBU, with Sam Green back in Johnsonville colours after playing in France and he joins a side that is well-rounded with muscle up front and a solid backline; the latter so much so that they have the relative luxury of Andrew Ellis in reserve. Pare-Plim are without Pasilio Tosi who is on the bench for the Canes, but he is replaced by the returning James Coburn with Luke Kapene back at fullback. They too are a very settled side and these two match up well. It should be a fascinating encounter.

Old Boys-University also lost their unbeaten record last Saturday when they went down to Johnsonville but get an opportunity to rebound straight away as the suddenly-struggling Wainuiomata side comes to visit Rugby League Park. OBU will be disappointed by their result but are still in a strong position to reclaim the Swindale, while Wainuiomata will be after anything positive after another heavy defeat and being held try-less in their last two outings.

The Goats are able to reunite Kyle Preston and Callum Harkin in the halves, but niggles rule out both loose forward Cody Quin and try-scoring tighthead Samson Koneferenisi. Club chairman Te Wehi Wright is again on the bench. Wainuiomata have tweaked their line-up for this clash, some changes include Mikade Fono dropping from fullback to first five for TJ Va’a and Renata Kotuhi starting at fullback,  Kitiona Leitufia coming back into the team at blindside flanker and Zamian Ray-Blake coming back into lock for Markus Stowers-McCarthy.

Adding to a busy day in the south of the city is that all four teams east of the Mt Victoria tunnel are at home. Farthest east is the Polo Ground, and after putting Norths to the sword last Saturday Oriental Rongotai will be looking to do the same to Tawa with the Lyndhurst side licking their wounds after being mauled by Petone, and now find themselves as the team in that dreaded eighth spot on the ladder.

The Magpies are largely able to start the same side as a week ago. Lock Malachai Ti’a and winger Daniel Tafili come in, with Jason Seumanufagai also named to start after being a late change with Connor Lemon a week ago. The devastating loose trio of Dom Ropeti, Sione Halalilo, and Siaosi Lavea continue as a unit. Tawa have Luke Cummings back at 10 which should steady their ship, while Sene Nofoaiga comes in at centre with Tony Solomona moving back out to the wing.

Heading west, Evans Bay Park is the scene for this year’s clash between the region’s two Marist-affiliated clubs; Marist St Pat’s and Hutt Old Boys Marist. MSP were relatively untroubled in beating Wellington last week – just as HOBM were the week before – but know that this will be a step back up, especially against an Eagles outfit that will have renewed confidence after toppling one of the leaders last week.

The home side bring back veterans Jacob Dunn, Tuga Mativa, and Ben Tuiatua, with Jack O’Brien a late replacement for Chicago Doyle at fullback. Locks Aisea Mafileo and Teofilo Paulo are the only changes Eagles side, whose rebound in recent weeks fuelled by a return to vintage form by Brandyn Laursen who starts at 12 between fellow centurion Glen Walters and youngster Kobe-Joe Vulu

Across the other side of Evans Bay Parade on Kilbirnie Park, Poneke return home for the visit of Avalon. The home side notched just their second win of the campaign by easing past Wainuiomata, while the Wolves were unable to contain a rampant Pare-Plim. The visitors will be looking to grab a second win of their own here, while Poneke’s chances of closing the gap toward those inside the top eight depends on getting the result here.

The home team welcome back both co-captains Andrew Jones and James ‘Rockkit’ Mose, with Carlos Hihi getting a run at fullback with Nick Robertson shifting to the wing and Ifeanyi Tonu’u-Nnebechukwu at 10. There’s plenty in reserve from the bench as well with Maea Temu-Schmidt and Cole Stewart. Wolves coach Thomas Kiwara has shuffled his deck with veterans Pat Roil and Ryan Nepia starting up front with Koli Bower shifting to the openside. Premier 2 captain Enos Palemene starts in midfield with Jordan Aquila moving into the #10 jersey.

And finally, the two sides at the foot of the standings meet at Hataitai as Wellington hosts Norths. While it’s somewhat stunning to see the defending champions in this position, it’s the reality of matters in a difficult season. Reaching the top eight isn’t beyond their grasp but they badly need all five points from here if that is to remain a realistic goal. The Axemen will be targeting this game to get one win on the board, and if they can stay in the fight that could be distinct possibility.

Wellington are much changed as usual, with Junior Bese switching from the backs to the forwards this week, and a return for long-serving prop Joe Reid who joins Cam Roseingrave – who earned his blazer last week – up front. The visitors are mostly unchanged from the side that started against Ories, but with one eyebrow-raising selection as former captain and loose forward Parekura Lalaga lines up in the midfield alongside Ropati So’oalo. It might seem unconventional, but Lalaga did play the last 20 minutes there for their second side last Saturday.

There’s a trio of interclub trophies in play tomorrow:

  • As well as the Bill Brien, Upper Hutt and Petone also contest their Ted Connolly Cup. Alongside his brothers Eric and Adrian, Connolly was a significant figure in the Upper Hutt club either side of WWII, and following the conflict organised an annual match featuring a team of returned servicemen known as “Connolly’s All-Stars”. Petone hold it after winning 36-15 in the early rounds last year.
  • OBU and Wainuiomata play for their Peter Dunford Cup. Dunford attended Wellington College and played for WCOB before moving to the valley in the 1950’s and continued his involvement with Wainuiomata. First played for in 1986, it’s held by OBU after winning 31-15 at William Jones last season.
  • MSP and HOBM contest their Father Cleary Shield. Tom Cleary was a schoolmaster and 1st XV coach at St Patricks College and one of the founders of St Patricks OB, and the trophy in his name was donated by the Roche family intending to improve relations between St Pats OB and Marist. After the two amalgamated it briefly fell into disuse until revived for play between MSP and Hutt Valley Marist, and following the latter’s amalgamation it’s been played for between MSP and HOBM since 1995. The Eagles hold it after their thumping 50-14 win in last year’s final round of the Swindale.

All seven matches are at their normal 2.45pm kick-off time

Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield

It’s a trip into the eastern suburbs for both of the unbeaten duo. Leaders HOBM put their perfect record on the line against their city brethren MSP at Evans Bay, while a short distance away Tawa take on an Ories side that never got into their stride against Norths and will be looking to rebound. Across Evans Bay Parade third-placed Poneke welcome winless Avalon to Kilbirnie, while at Rugby League Park OBU take on also winless Wainuiomata, and bottom-side Johnsonville are at home at Helston for the visit of Pare-Plim.

Over in the Hutt Valley there’s a crunch clash at Maidstone as fifth-placed Upper Hutt takes on joint-third Petone, while in the 2.45pm clash Stokes Valley welcome Norths to Delaney Park.

Bar the last game, all matches are at 1.00pm.

Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy

Norths’ (23) win over Petone last Saturday has put the defending champions back in the box seat with two rounds to go, and while they visit bottom-side Poneke (1) at Kilbirnie tomorrow, they still have Marist St Pat’s to play in next weekend’s final round. MSP (20) are at home across the road at Evans Bay against Paremata-Plimmerton (10), while Petone (20) will also look to take it to next weekend when they host their valley neighbours HOBM/Wainuiomata (5) at the Petone Rec and knowing that while their title rivals play each other next weekend they visit Pare-Plim.

The fourth match of the round sees Oriental Rongotai (13) heading out to Fraser Park to take on Avalon (13) in the match likely to determine who finishes fourth and the makeup of the two divisions for the second round.

All four matches kickoff at 11.30am

Colts Paris Memorial

As mentioned in Monday’s column most of the Colts rugby this year will be on Friday nights, and this week is no different with three matches happening tonight. On paper, the feature match is at Lyndhurst Park where unbeaten pair Tawa and Petone clash, while the third side yet to taste defeat – HOBM – are at the CIS campus against bottom-side Wainuiomata. The third match is at Rugby League Park where Ories ‘hosts’ OBU in a midtable encounter, with all three matches kicking off at 7.30pm.

Tomorrow’s remaining matches can be found at the same place – Kilbirnie Park. Poneke welcomes the Upper Hutt Rams to the #2 field, while on #3 MSP meets Norths with both underway at 1pm. Wellington has the bye this week.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

Local lightweight action recommences after last week’s Club Cup interlude. The feature match here is the clash between table-toppers the OBU Scallywags and Stokes Valley at Nairnville, and while the pair are due to meet in Club Cup action, it appears this will be played as a standalone match in the next competition window on June 17.

Elsewhere, also-unbeaten Poneke will look to rebound from their Club Cup exit when they visit Para-Plim – who have been idle the past two weeks – at Ngati Toa, Tawa head to HW Shortt and struggling Eastbourne, Johnsonville and Petone clash at Newlands, Wellington and HOBM meet at MacAlister Park, and Wests will front to take on MSP in the cage at Ian Galloway.

All six matches are at 2.45pm


It’s judgement day for the remaining Premiership hopefuls as the last four places are up for grabs tomorrow. St Bernard’s and Wairarapa College get a second chance after dipping out last week, and they host aspirants Paraparaumu and Naenae respectively. Mana can also return to the Premiership when they visit Newlands, while either Porirua or Tawa will be given the opportunity to play in the big time after they meet at Porirua. The losing sides in those will go into Premier 2 along with the Silverstream and Wellington College 2nd XVs and the winners of three other matches (home teams first): Kapiti against Hutt Valley HS, Aotea and Upper Hutt-Heretaunga, and Bishop Viard and the Rongotai 2nd XV. Taita were due to host the Town 2nds but have been forced to default again owing to numbers.

Elsewhere the Under 15 and Under 65kg grades conclude grading, while the true lightweights on the Under 55s start their competition as well.

In other action, just two weeks after last being down this way, Palmerston North Boys and Hastings Boys are back in town. Palmerston North are at Silverstream for their annual Traditional match at 12pm, while Hastings meets Rongotai to wrap their pre-seasons at the same time. Napier Boys were also intending to come down and play Wellington College for the Amner Cup, but it seems their exertions at the Sanix tournament in Japan have proved too much and they’ve cancelled this match.

Looking ahead to next week, the Premiership gets underway on Wednesday when Town hosts Wellington College at Evans Bay in their annual Traditional clash.


Wairarapa-Bush starts their championship Moose Kapene Cup round with a rematch of last week’s first-round final as winners Martinborough hosts Pioneer. Nearby, Greytown hosts East Coast, Carterton welcomes Eketahuna, and Gladstone are at home against Marist.

In Horowhenua-Kapiti Rahui have already won the first round with last weekend’s unplayed match between Paraparaumu and Levin COB not affecting that. Rahui head to Shannon for the final round, old foes Paraparaumu and Waikanae clash at the Domain on Paraparaumu’s Old Timers’ Day, and Foxton play host to Levin Wanderers. Levin COB have the final-round bye.

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