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Semi-finals heartstoppers

Petone supporters celebrate with their team on fulltime after beating Tawa in a thriller a year ago.

This coming weekend it’s Jubilee Cup semi-finals time.

Ngati Toa Domain and Helston Park will become the newest venues in Wellington to host Jubilee Cup semi-finals, with Paremata-Plimmerton hosting Old Boys University and Johnsonville welcoming Oriental-Rongotai. Kick-off at both venues is 2.45pm.

Semi-finals are often tight and gnarly – such as the selected ones below that have played out in the almost 20-year history of this website.

2022: PETONE 15 – TAWA 12 

Petone fullback Ben Brooking scored a try in the 84th minute to earn his side a place in the Jubilee Cup final for the first time since 2005.

Petone really had no right to win this one. They were stranded in their own 22 for the best part of 20 minutes but somehow resisted and were lucky Tom Cutler missed a handy penalty at 12-8 with about eight minutes left.

The last try saw Petone cautiously advance the ball, baiting Tawa into conceding three penalties. The winning moment happened just to the left of the posts when a stockpile of forwards were converged in a ruck and Brooking was in wide open space.

As a spectacle it was mostly grim. Tawa led 5-3, courtesy of a Pepesana Patafilo try.

Lock Jack Ross scored first in the second half to put Petone up 8-5. Halfback Cam Ferreira instrumental in the set up with a slashing a 30-metre break. Replacement Tawa lock Hemi Fermanis restored ascendancy for Tawa when he carried three players over the line. Tawa didn’t convert their chances – unusual from the former champions.

 

2020: OLD BOYS UNIVERSITY 32 – MARIST ST PAT’S 28 

Noted for being one of the most even, hard-fought semi-finals in recent years. It was almost a case of last man standing as OBU won a battle of attrition at Evans Bay Park. The fixture was characterised by big defence, many stoppages and a high injury toll – which saw MSP lose both starting first and second five eighths Aidan Morgan and James Proctor by halftime. OBU won the game, on the scoreboard at least, with a furious first half assault.

After a bruising opening exchange that saw both sides trade penalties, OBU opened their try scoring account with a well-taken try from a penalty and lineout drive in the corner. OBU went on to lead 8-6 after 20 minutes, before seizing on their chances and scoring three tries to lead 22-6. MSP scored after two minutes of phase play to trail 22-13 at halftime, but were forced to make changes to their backs through injuries.

The second half was a gnarly affair, MSP closing to 22-16, OBU scored another try to move ahead 29-16, but MSP came back in the last quarter and pushed OBU all the way and all they could do was hold on to fulltime.

Captains Jonathan Fuimaono and Tom Martin on fulltime at the end of their 2020 semi-final, at the tail-end of the Covid-disrupted season. 

2019: WAINUIOMATA 21 – ORIENTAL-RONGOTAI 20

Fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu was the toast of Wainuiomata when he stepped up in the dying embers of the semi-final at the Polo Ground and kicked a penalty to send his side into the Jubilee Cup final. Fouth placed qualifier Wainuiomata had led 13-7 at halftime, but top qualifiers Ories coming off a four-game winning streak took the lead through a penalty and try to No. 8 William Heather. Wainuiomata, fifth heading into the previous week’s last round, dug deep, worked their way up field and won on fulltime to make the final for the second time since 2014.

2015: MARIST ST PAT’S 27 – TAWA 23

The lead changed hands five times in an Evans Bay Park thriller. It was a ding-dong battle in the first half as MSP led 13-10 at the turnaround. Tawa took the lead early in the second half when Telea Seumanutafa dashed 25 metres down the touchline and scored. Following the re-start, Tawa made a mistake in their own half. MSP No. 8 Tokakece barrelled over to score his second try of the afternoon to make it 18-17.James So’oialo kicked a penalty to put Tawa back in front, 20-18, but Fa’atonu Fili replied with two for MSP to make it 24-20. Tawa kicked the ball out on the full but won a scrum penalty on halfway, which So’oialo kicked to make it 24-23. Then Fili kicked a 45-metre penalty close to fulltime.

2013: ORIENTAL-RONGOTAI 30 – HUTT OLD BOYS MARIST 27

This match we have gone before several times before on this website – but for good reason. Here is the recap again. Ories first five-eighth Fa’atonu Fili won the game for his side in the 17th minute of extra time, after scores had been locked up at 20-20 at fulltime and then 27-27 after 97 minutes. Ories had given themselves every chance to win when flanker Tutasi Masoe crashed over in the corner with the last play of the game and Fili missed a difficult conversion that would have ended it then. Only a few minutes before HOBM themselves had thought they had the game won when their right wing James Kusel had fielded a Fili kick on the fly near halfway and steamed up the right hand touchline to set up a converted try to put them ahead 20-15. Previously, Ories wing Afa Fa’atau crashed up field and set up a try in reply and scores were locked up at 10-10 at halftime. HOBM spent the first 10 minutes of the second half camped inside Ories’ 22 and were twice held up over the line. Eventually they were awarded a penalty and flyhalf Brandyn Laursen took the points to put HOBM ahead 13-10. The match unravelled, with Ories scoring an unconverted try in the corner to All Black Julian Savea to take a 15-13 lead, and both sides scoring twice more to make it 20-20 after 80 minutes.

2007: MARIST ST PAT’S 24 – PETONE 23

Another Evans Bay Park nail-biter. MSP left wing Jope Naubo was the hero for his side, scoring two tries including the match winner at the end to help win a seesawing semi-final played in steady rain.MSP held an 11-9 advantage at halftime after Naubo had beaten three defenders to score in the corner,with Petone first five-eighth Dan Kirkpatrick kicking three penalties in reply. The lead changed four times in the second half, with tries to Petone centre Simeon James and MSP openside Victor Vito seeing MSP ahead 19-16, before Petone’s left winger Greg Walker scored and Kirkpatrick converted to see the Villagers in front 23-19. But Naubo had the final say, scoring the winning try.

2005: PETONE 19 – PONEKE 17

The strike of god. Petone’s season was seemingly over with time almost up in this playoff against Poneke. But their hooker Eugene Smith had other ideas when he won a tighthead scrum win 40 metres out from Poneke’s line. Petone moved the ball to left wing Alex Telea who scorched down field and set up a try in the corner to centre Tumanu Martin. With scores now level, first five-eighth Earl Va’a slotted the sideline conversion. That was not all, however. Poneke launched one final frantic attack and won a penalty. A deathly silence descended over the Petone Rec as Poneke fullback Brad Cooper lined up the shot to win the game for the red and blacks. But he pulled it across the front of the uprights and Petone celebrated. The following week they pipped Norths 21-19 in the final.

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