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Contrasting wins for Wellington teams over Hawke’s Bay sides at Rugby League Park

Above: Teammates celebrate Wellington U19s wing Junior Paulo’s try at the end of the match that gave them a one-point win over the Hawke’s Bay U19s in their match at Rugby League Park. 

  • By Steven White

Both Wellington teams in action against Hawke’s Bay teams today at Rugby League Park won their matches – but in contrasting circumstances.

The Wellington U19s beat the Hawkes Bay U19s 27-26 in a last play thriller, while the Wellington Development side defeated the Hawke’s Bay Development side 55-19.

Round-ups of the games follow below.

In beating the Junior Magpies with the last play of the game, the Wellington U19s have likely retained the Central Region Shield leading into next week’s final round against Manawatu, who lost their match today 34-10 to the Hurricanes Heartland U20s. The third and final round is next weekend with Wellington playing Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay meeting the Heartland selection.

Wellington won the game today with a try out wide to right wing Junior Paulo to put them in front for the first time since the 10th minute.

Junior Paulo about to cross for the match-winner.

With fulltime fast approaching, Wellington made a furious break up towards the tryline in the left hand corner, but openside flanker Nathaniel Barry was held up over the line and Wellington’s chance to win might have been lost. But there was still time, and Wellington’s forwards subsequently had a concerted crack at the line in the same corner but couldn’t break through. Instead, it was up to the backs, who flung the ball wide to first five Carlos Hihi and to captain and centre Tofuka Paongo who assisted Paulo over in the other corner.

The winning try was part of a late comeback that saw them score two tries just earlier to Barry and to replacement left wing Sam Meo, which cut Hawkes Bay’s lead to 26-22 before the last gasp heroics.

Hawke’s Bay was seemingly heading for victory not long into the second half when Wellington No 8 Jeremiah Avei-Collins made a handling error inside Wellington’s 22 and the Junior Magpies subsequently struck from the next scrum through replacement outside back Patrick Lilo-Iosefo scored under the posts, and first five Jordan Soli added the extras to extend the Magpies’ 19-12 half time lead to 26-12.

Patrick Lilo-Iosefo launching a destructive run to the line early in the second half to put HB up 26-12.

With the fresh southerly breeze at their backs, the Magpies launched another furious raid and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but Soli missed the straightforward attempt which could have proved the winning moment right there and then.

This miss seemed to galvanise Wellington and they lifted their collective effort and started making inroads up through the middle of the park. Avei-Collins atoned for his earlier error by making several big runs, whilst blindside flanker and former Hastings BHS player Matolu Petaia was also a key player in Wellington’s comeback.

Flyhalf Carlos Hihi kicks for territory as part of Wellington’s second half comeback.

Barry’s try got them to 26-17, and they came home strongly with two more tries in the final few minutes.

The match kicked off in bright sunshine, and Wellington had first use of the breeze. A raid up into the 22 led to a free kick from which Wellington tapped and went wide to fullback Francis Mettrick who scored the game’s first try.

Hawke’s Bay responded with two quickfire tries of their own to move ahead 14-5. The first was to hooker William Fonohema, and the second was to halfback Kade Manuel who intercepted a Wellington pass on the short side of a ruck and scampered 50 metres.

Wellington scored their next try following another period of attack inside the 22, and from another free kick awarded to them, Petaia crashed over in a sea of bodies under the posts. First five Carlos Hihi kicked the conversion and Wellington trailed 14-12.

After 30 minutes the Magpies were in for their third try, building phases up to Wellington’s try line, and No 8 Joshua Smith came up with the try to put the visitors ahead 19-12.

Wellington went desperately close to scoring right on halftime to likely tie up the score, when second five Emmanuel Solomona offloaded in a tackle to centre Paongo who just failed to reel in the pass and he knocked on over the line and that was halftime.

In the second match at Rugby League Park, the Wellington Development Team beat their Hawke’s Bay counterparts 55-19. Wellington won nine tries to three, after leading 17-7 at half time and then pulling away in the second spell with the fresh southerly in their favour.

Wellington won by demolishing the Hawke’s Bay scrum on several occasions, and their forwards finished the game well on top of their opponents.

Hawke’s Bay also lost two players to the sinbin, one in each half.

Wellington opened the scoring early, with a penalty and lineout in the far corner, and hooker James Douglas came up with the try.

The match was well contested at the breakdown and around the ruck area, which led to Hawkes Bay scoring their first try in reply following a break involving prop Trei Nepe-Apatu and NZ U20s lock Hunter Morrison and halfback Te Kahika Thompson darting through. Hawke’s Bay were ahead 7-5 at this point.

Wellington struck back with a clinical try which was finished off by No 8 Toby Crosby, and first five Callum Harkin added the extras.

Wellington’s third try before halftime followed the sinbinning of Hawke’s Bay prop Nepe-Apatu, and from the next scrum halfback Sam Howling went wide to left wing Alex Ropeti who scored in the corner.

This also followed a short period of play where Hawke’s Bay themselves had missed two chances to score, being held up over the line, and they then knocked on.

The opening several minutes of the second half were well contested as both sides probed for gaps in the defence, before Wellington scored two quickfire tries in the 48th and 52nd minutes to extend their lead to 31-7. The first of these tries saw second five Ethan Webster-Nonu burst into space and sprint to the line, and the second was a rolling maul try off an attacking lineout.

Hawke’s Bay made a brief comeback, and blindside flanker and former OBU player Tiaki Fabish finished off a try that started from a lineout 35 metres out in front of the grandstand.

Hawke’s Bay would soon lose their second player to the sinbin, replacement player Bear Williams given his hibernation orders by referee Thomas, and Wellington scored their next try straight afterwards from an attacking 5-metre scrum.

Wellington scored again straight from the next kickoff when the restart didn’t go 10 metres, and Webster-Nonu poured through to collect the ball in the air and scurried almost to the tryline but was brought down in a tackle and knocked on in the process.

Wellington won a tighthead scrum from the very next play and scored their next try to go up 43-12.

Wellington’s dominant scrum led directly to their next try to bring up their half century with replacement back Harrison Boyle crossing on the shortside.

Wellington’s last try at the very end was scored by first five Harkin who kicked a loose ball ahead in general play which Hawkes Bay scrambled to recover but Harkin then found himself onside as the ball spurted forward from the ruck and all he had to do was pick it up and dive over the line to seal a resounding win.


There were three of four scheduled matches played today in the opening round of the Trustbank Secondary Schools Shield Hurricanes U18s competition.

In two matches in Napier played today, the Hawke’s Bay Saracens U18s defeated the Wellington Centurions U18s 37-7 and the Poverty Bay U19s beat the Whanganui U18s 49-15.

In Levin, the Wairarapa-Bush U18s beat home team Horowhenua-Kapiti 65-0.

There was better news for home supporters in the main match that followed in Levin, Horowhenua-Kapiti beating Wairarapa-Bush 24-19 for their first Heartland Championship win of the season.

The fourth scheduled U18 competition match between the Wellington Maori and Wellington Samoan U18 teams has been deferred owing to illness in the Maori team’s camp.

Hurricanes U15s tournament

St Peter’s College are the winners of this year’s Hurricanes Under 15 tournament, winning the final 21-0 over fellow Auckland school Dilworth in ideal conditions at St Pat’s Silverstream. The first half was an even contest until the 20th minute when St Peters pulled off the sort of set-piece midfield strike many Premier club sides would like to accomplish to go in under the sticks and take a 7-0 to the break. They opened the margin with a similar try, this time from phase play, to open the second half and added a third with a break down the left flank with about 15 left to provide the final score.

Auckland schools completed the podium with Kelston beating Feilding for third, while Silverstream and Gisborne Boys drew 19-all. Manukura beat Francis Douglas in the Division 2 final.

On Friday,  the Wellington College under 15s lost to Rotorua Boys’ High School 24-34 in the final of the National Under 15 Tournament 34-24.

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