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Penultimate Swindale Shield round and Women’s finals tomorrow

Avalon and Marist St Pat’s are both at home tomorrow, with the Wolves hosting Northern United and MSP entertaining Old Boys-University. Photo: Hugh Pretorius.

  • By Scott MacLean

Friday afternoon updates: It’s Women’s Finals Day tomorrow, while the Swindale Shield, Colts and perhaps the Premier 2 competitions in Wellington could all be decided tomorrow with a round to spare (two more weeks after this for the Colts) if the cards fall the right way for those teams in the box seats.

A couple more player milestones being celebrated tomorrow, while Ardie Savea starts at No. 8 for Oriental-Rongotai at Hataitai Park.

But what happens on the field this week is heavily shaded by the tragic passing of Norths’ Wellington, Highlanders, and NZ Māori player Connor Garden-Bachop during the week, aged just 25. Our thoughts are with his whanau and friends, and rugby in Wellington has been asked to observe a minute’s silence before matches in his memory.

This week’s radio commentary match is the Marist St Pat’s v Old Boys University affair from Evans Bay Park. On radios at 1161am or by by streaming via the website at teupoko.co.nz

Swindale Round 12 draw and teamlists (as received): http://www.clubrugby.co.nz/wellington/games-results.php?competition=1&season=21&round=12

Premier Swindale Shield

Last week’s results took some of the interest out of matters as it settled who will have a chance at the Jubilee Cup and who won’t. But there’s still plenty to play for not the least those valuable top four places that come with either a second life or a week off, and as things stand every team in top eight has a shot at those.

All matches revert to 2.45pm kickoffs this week.

Leaders Old Boys-University (50) are all but assured of hosting one of those top-four matches already, and almost have the Shield back in their grasp. Maximum points tomorrow would mean that, at worst, they’ll have one hand on it tomorrow night. But the task they face is not a straightforward one, as they heads across to Evans Bay and a meeting with Marist St Pats (37) who still harbour hopes of cracking that top four.

Few changes for the Goats tomorrow. Nathaniel Berry comes onto the openside in their only change up front, while in the backs Jan Lammers is on the left wing, so Fuka Paongo moves into second-five, Elijah Maene-Lokeni to centre, and Ty Poe swaps to the right. The Perrers-Preston-Harkin 8-9-10 remains intact, and prop Laurence Jarel Lim reaches 50 games in the green and white hoops.

Keelan Whitman returns to No. 8 for MSP for this match, but centre Francis Mettrick is missing, in an otherwise stable team led by their in-form captain and openside Milan Kriletich. Joe Aston starts his second straight match at halfback and Dallas Natoli joins the reserves bench, with no Jack O’Brien either.

Should OBU falter are Petone (45), who are the only other side that could win the Shield outright. After last week’s McBain triumph, they are back at the Rec for the visit of Paremata-Plimmerton (38). The Villagers will be on a high from that result but equally the job of ending their longest championship drought in history is far from over, and benefit from the Hurricanes exit last week with Harry Godfrey and Riley Higgins joining 50-gamer Losi Filipo in the backline. Ridge Studd’s return to rugby continues as he makes his first Premier start, with prop Kafaongo Katoa and lock Bradley Pritchard joining the pack this week.

It’s been a creaky few weeks for Pare-Plim and they need a good performance as well to set themselves up for the playoffs having made very heavy weather of beating the Axemen. They make a handful of changes; Werdna Maligi-Leota returns to the front row, Keepa Cherrington is back on the blindside, and Luke Omeri returns from injury at the back of the scrum in place of Alex Fidow – who must have had a tough week with the shock passing of his former Scots teammate – dropping to the bench. The solitary change in the backs has Ethan Webster-Nonu back in place of Dale Sabbagh.

The Upper Hutt Rams (40) can claim a share of the spoils, but need an unlikely series of results for that to happen and a more realistic objective might well be trying to run down Petone for that second home top-four hosting right (The Rams hold the tiebreaker). But they face a difficult task tomorrow if they want to achieve that, away at Lyndhurst against Tawa (37). The home side are rounding into ominous form at the right end of the season and after cruising past Norths last week will be looking to test themselves against a fellow challenger

Joyner Gaualofa continues to show his versatility, again starting at prop with Lotu Nuku at hooker as the home side has a completely unchanged 22 from last week’s big win over Norths, which, amongst others, means Tristan So’oialo again starts at halfback and veteran fullback Randall Bishop keeps youngster Jacob Denyer on the bench. The Rams are still without the Woodward brothers so Gelu Lafaele and Vaini Halafihi continue at lock with Sio Fidow back on the blindside. Scott Svenson returns on the wing, so Tynan Barrett drops back to the bench which again includes indestructible veteran Josh Hunt.

Despite the McBain pain, Hutt Old Boys Marist (38) still have a shot at those top four places, and can take big step towards those when they host Poneke (26) at the Hutt Rec. Despite putting on their best performance of the year last week in beating Johnsonville, the Streetkids are again consigned to the Hardham Cup playoffs but would like to mix things up for the sides ahead of them. The Eagles however would want maximum points ahead of their trip to the Polo Ground next week.

Loose forward Jordan Gillies joins the list of Eagles centurions tomorrow, and he’ll be joined in the starting side by three others – Fereti Soloa, Francis Tanuvasa, and a returning James O’Reilly – as they look to give some others a break. Joey Pinfold and Flynn Ruscoe form the halves with Brandyn Laursen and Fritz Rayasi starting on the pine. Erstwhile hooker Andrew Jones starts in the seemingly-cursed No. 7 jersey for Poneke in their only change up front. The bruising Saimoa Siale fills the Caleb Robson-shaped hole in midfield, Taine Regeling starts on the right wing with Ifeanyi Nnbechukwu in place of Nick Roberston at fullback.

The final of our top eight teams are Oriental Rongotai (37), who make the short trip through the cutting to Hataitai Park to face Wellington (5). The Magpies were the first side to prevent OBU scoring four tries this year but that wasn’t enough to help them win, while Wellington would be left wondering what might have been after letting slip a 24-0 lead over Pare-Plim.

The Axemen have made a handful of changes to the team that almost beat Paremata-Plimmerton last week, including another change at first five-fullback in Te Aranga Hakiwai moving to the back after a fortnight playing first five. Lawrence Lotovale plays his 12th match of the season but his first start, at 10. Will Cosgriff is a constant at halfback, making his 12th straight start there this year to date.

Plenty of eyes will however be on the bloke wearing No.8 for Ories, with Ardie Savea playing his first game in New Zealand since before the World Cup so Sammy Se’au drops to the bench. The rest of their changes are all in the backs; Savea’s great mate Tuga Mativa is on the left wing, Jake Hamlin is at 10, Skiva Va’a at 12, Sam Tautiaga on the right wing, and Chicago Doyle goes back to fullback.

The final two matches of the round feature the remaining four sides who will all contest the Hardham Cup rounds, and while the big prize is now out of reach there is still jockeying for position going on here. Johnsonville (24) and Wainuiomata (25) both need to shrug off the disappointment of last week and regroup for their clash at Helston Park, while across the hills winless Avalon (4) welcomes one-win Norths (9) to Fraser Park.

The Hawks get Olly Paotonu back amongst a host of changes. Morgan Williams and Aaron Fawkes get starts in the backs while Regan Herbert, Josh Betham, and Caleb Cummings all come into the forwards. Fullback is listed as TBC, but we believe that will be Jacob Walmsley if he’s cleared to play. Teru Time starts his milestone 200th game for Wainuiomata on the blindside flank alongside fellow regulars Greg Leolofi and Brayden Soi. That unit is about the only unchanged one as they’ve rattled off a host of changes elsewhere with Jason Matahe, Matt Jacobs, Renata Kotuhi, Regan Gray, and Josh Le’afa-Paki all given starts.

Avalon get an interesting and welcome boost tomorrow, as All Black prop George Bower makes a rare return to his roots and joins younger brother Koli in the Wolves’ front row. Outside of that there’s many changes in the pack, with Site Timu returning on the wing the only one amongst the backs. Norths will take the field with heavy hearts, and in honour of Garden-Bachop veteran left winger Liki Siliga will wear a jersey other than the usual #11. Despite heavy results recently there’s few changes, including the return of veteran back Johnny Teleaga to centre.

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It’s a bumper weekend on the interclub trophy front:

  • MSP and OBU contest their Jack Lamason Memorial Cup. Lamason was a legendary figure in Wellington sport either side WWII, representing the province in both rugby – where he was part of the 1930 Ranfurly Shield winning team – and cricket where he toured England with the national team in 1936, despite not making the first team in either sport while at Wellington College. Donated following his passing in 1961 for play between the Wellington College and St Pat’s Old Boys clubs, its now contested by their successors and held by OBU from last years 41-26 result.
  • First played for in 2015, the Ken Gray Cup is the prize for Petone and Pare-Plim. Gray’s contribution to Petone, Wellington, and New Zealand rugby is legendary, but he started out in senior rugby with pre-merger Paremata and it was from there he was selected in the Wellington B side in 1958 before moving to the Petone Rec the following year. Pare-Plim hold this after winning it for the first time last season by 53-24.
  • Two trophies in play tomorrow at Lyndhurst Park. The interclub one is the Mexted Motors Cup, donated by the famous family for play between the clubs in the two areas their business operates in, and held by Tawa after their narrow 22-20 win at Maidstone last year. The other in the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy which Tawa will be defending after taking it from Wainuiomata two weeks ago.
  • HOBM and Poneke play for their Roy Johns Memorial Shield. Another member of Poneke’s long and glorious history, Johns was the Wellington representative halfback during the war years when he was exempted from overseas service on account of his job as an ironworker. Put in play after his passing in 1988 it was originally contested with Hutt Old Boys until their 1992 merger. HOBM hold it from their 24-14 win last season
  • And finally, Wellington and Ories contest their Alby Jack Memorial Cup. Jack plagued for Oriental before and after the war and, when not overseas serving, the combined side with Poneke alongside Roy Johns during it. After leading Oriental to the Hardham Cup in 1949 he moved across the street (literally) to Wellington and played their until he retired from the B-side in 1960. Post-playing he helped found the Wellington Rugby Supporters Club and served as Vice-President of the WRFU. Its held by Ories from their 72-15 win on last years opening day.

Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 039: Jack Lamason

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Premier Women’s Tia Paasi Memorial and Izzy Ford Cups

It’s Finals Day at William Jones Park as the first championship silverware of the year is handed out.

The main event for the Tia Paasi Memorial Cup sees top qualifiers Petone looking to complete an unbeaten season when they face Oriental Rongotai. The Villagers have been dominant as they seek to erse the disappointment of last year’s loss in the title decider and bolstered by more up and coming stars from St Mary’s College and a handful from defunct champions MSP have only been held below 30 points once this including 52-10 and 41-19 wins over their opponents tomorrow. Players to watch are the halves combination of Milly Mackey and Keira Su’a-Smith, irrepressible prop Lavinia Lea, and the ageless Jackie Patea-Fereti.

Ories arrive at this match after beating old rivals Norths at week ago. It hasn’t been a vintage season for the Lady Magpies with five defeats along the way in what has really been a rebuilding year, but that will largely be forgotten if they lift the trophy. They’ve been able to welcome back some familiar faces in recent weeks including World Cup winners Joanah Ngan-Woo and strike weapon Ayesha Leti-l’iga – the latter still rehabbing her ACL tear – first-five Amanda Rasch-Utopo, and Faasua Makisi who is back from a stint in Sydney. Those four names alone add considerably to the danger factor and enough to make Petone very wary.

The Izzy Ford Cup final between Paremata-Plimmerton and Poneke-OBU is the curtainraiser. The combined side earned their place in beating Avalon last Saturday while Pare-Plim have been idle for the past two weeks owing to the draw and beating the other two sides in the first week. Rust could be an issue for Pare-Plim but the bulk of the side have also been involved in the 13-man code so will still be match sharp. The matches between the two have been close with Pare-Plim winning both; 17-5 back on the opening day of the season and 24-15 three weeks ago.

The Izzy Ford final is at 11am, with kickoff in the Tia Paasi Memorial at 1.30pm.

Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield

As with their Premiers, the title is very much OBU’s (50) to lose. While they don’t have the margin their senior side enjoys, their remaining matches have them against ninth-placed MSP (22) and 10th-placed Norths. But they will need to be wary tomorrow on Kilbirnie #2 as MSP upset Petone not that long ago. Looking to pounce are holders Tawa (47) who host the seventh-placed Upper Hutt Rams (29) at Redwood (12.30pm), while Petone (44) are not completely out of it but take on sixth-placed Pare-Plim (38) on the Petone Rec. Fourth and fifth clash over the river at the Hutt Rec as HOBM (42) host Poneke (41), while the last top-eight side, Ories (28) are on Kilbirnie #1 against Wellington (18) (12.30pm). The remaining two matches are between sides destined for the HD Morgan playoffs with Norths (19) away at Avalon (13) and Johnsonville (17) hosting Wainuiomata (13) at Newlands Park (12.30pm).

Unless mentioned, these matches are at 1pm.

(Editors note: Our contributor Scott MacLean referees his 100th Premier 2 match with Petone vs Pare-Plim game)

Colts Paris Memorial

Baring a remarkable collapse, the trophy seems destined to spend another summer at the Hutt Rec as HOBM (50) have a nine-point lead with three rounds to go and would be hot favourites to continue that as they host ninth-placed Poneke (23) at the Hutt Rec. The Upper Hutt Rams (41) lead the chase and are yet to play the leader, but must get past Tawa (34) in the early game at Lyndhurst. For the other top-six sides MSP (38) meets OBU (36) at Evans Bay, Petone (37) take on Pare-Plim (14) on the Petone Rec, and Ories (36) are at Kilbirnie 1 at 12.30pm to face Wellington (8). Further down the table Norths (28) are at Fraser Park to face Avalon (17), and the bottom two meet when Johnsonville (3) takes on Wainuiomata (6) at Helston.

All seven matches are at 1pm.

Under 85 JC Bowl

Leaders Tawa (45) have the bye this week, so there’s an opportunity for the OBU Scallywags (35) to put some interest into next weekend when they host Wellington (23) at Nairnville. Avalon (30) have beaten Petone (7) by default already, with Poneke (25) at Ngati Toa to face Pare-Plim (16) in the other matches involving top-four sides. HOBM (21) are at home against Eastbourne (5), and MSP (2) and Johnsonville (18) can be found on Kilbirnie #2.

Kickoff is at 2.45pm unless stated

College

Just four games in the Premiership tomorrow following Silverstream’s emphatic 73-0 win over Rongotai in Wednesday’s Traditional clash, and those four are spread far and wide. Scots make the journey to Masterton for a 12 noon clash with Wairarapa College, while at 2.30pm Paraparaumu College hosts winless Hutt International up the coast. Also at 2.30pm are the two remaining games in the wider city as leaders Wellington College head to Lower Hutt to take on St Bernard’s, and Tawa will seek to repeat their qualifying win over St Pats Town when they host them.

In Premier 2 the headline clash is between unbeaten pair the Silverstream 2nds and Hutt Valley HS at Silverstream at 1pm. Also at that time the third side yet to lose, the Wellington College 2nds, are just down the road at Delaney Park to face Taita; along with Bishop Viard hosting the St Pats Town 2nds. The lone lone 2.30pm match sees Porirua and the Rongotai 2nds take to Jerry Collins while the fifth match of the round has already been decided with strugglers Naenae defaulting earlier in the week to Aotea.

Elsewhere

Unbeaten Kia Toa have the bye in the Manawatu Senior 1 “Top Five”, so the others have a chance to catch up some in the standings. Both games are at the Arena, with Old Boys Marist and Massey getting the main field, with College Old Boys and Feilding Yellows over the back. Kia Toa are back in action on Thursday night when they take on COB under the lights at the Arena. The “Bottom Four” matches have Freyberg at home against Linton Army, and Te Kawau host Feilding Old Boys-Oroua.

The 11th round of the Horowhenua-Kapiti competiton has runaway leaders Rahui at home against minnows Levin Wanderers, with Levin College Old Boys able to move into clear second when they host bottom-placed Paraparaumu at the Levin Domain. The third match of the day sees Shannon make the trip to Waikanae, with Foxton having the bye.

Just three rounds remain in Wairarapa-Bush before the playoffs, and the current top four are in action against one of their contemporaries. Leaders Marist are at home at Memorial Park against fourth-placed Martinborough, while a few hundred metres away Pioneer host Carterton at Jeans Street. Across the river Masterton Red Star are at home on Colombo Road against northerners Eketahuna, and the only match outside of Masterton has bottom-side Greytown at home against East Coast.

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