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First round silverware and seedings for championship round decided this weekend

Above: Poneke teams are at home at Kilbirnie Park to host Petone and Hutt Old Boys Marist are away at Miramar to play Oriental-Rongotai. 

  • By Scott MacLean

Updated: Tawa managed to beat Wellington 94-0 in today’s Swindale Shield at Lyndhurst Park. 

The first round Premier Swindale Shield and Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield trophies are handed out tomorrow afternoon, both likely to both be Old Boys University teams doing the double and singing the Billygoat Anthem at Rugby League Park – but stranger things have happened.

For most of the rest of the fields in both competitions, it’s the all-important seedings for the championship phase of the season that runs throughout July that is most important, and there is much to be still decided.

Similarly, the U85kg JC Bowl will be won tomorrow, almost certainly at Tawa, while the Colts have one more week in the first round to run after this, but HOBM have wrapped this up and finishing order for the second-round split is also key.

This week’s radio commentary match comes from Rugby League Park for Old Boys University  v Northern United kick off 2:45pm. On air at1161AM, 87.6FM, streaming IHeart Radio & Whare Kōrero Apps and

For Round 13 lineups (as received) and draws visit: 

More in the competitions preview below.

Premier Swindale Shield

Still plenty to play for this weekend even if who will be in the Top 8 for the first week of the playoffs is already sorted.

The main order of business concerns the Swindale Shield itself. Unlike last year, where Old Boys-University (54) hosted Pare-Plim and needed a win to grab a share they lost and dropped behind Johnsonville in the final standings, this time they’re in the box seat and need just two competition points at Rugby League Park against 12th-placed Norths (13) to assure themselves the trophy for the summer; Malo Manuao’s sideline conversion to win their game last weekend against MSP proving vital. Norths know they consigned to the Hardham playoffs once again and will face one of the three sides immediately ahead of them next week, but while they’ll be large underdogs will look to make things as difficult as possible.

The Goats have a handful of changes from last week, most notably NZ Universities rep Mitch McLeod starts at halfback with Kyle Preston in reserve. Tana Maene-Lokeni comes onto the openside and Jermaine Pepe into midfield. Norths are boosted by the return of physical flanker Callum Watts-Pointer, while Jayde Burns moves out to run the show at first-five this week with the vastly experienced Johnny Teleaga outside him.

A short distance away Petone (50), will be hoping that the Goats lose their feet and they can nab at least a share of the spoils. They’re at Kilbirnie Park against Poneke (26) in a battle of the regions second and third-oldest clubs, with hosts already heading for the Hardham but unlikely to give an inch to their opposition. Petone are – like OBU – already assured of hosting a top four playoff game next week, but it’s doubtful they’ll be treating this as a warm-up game.

Both sides have rattled off changes for this match. For Poneke in come Michael Tafaovale, Mosese Lea’aepulu, David Taoipu, Devon Sopoaga, Ifeanyi Nnebechukwu, Dominic Ririnui-Sipa, and a returning Nick Robertson. For Petone only Ridge Studd starts in the same jersey in their pack again this week. Cam Ferreira starts at halfback and Belgium Tuatagaloa gets a run at centre, but the Villagers will be pleased to finally have TJ Clarke back from injury and he starts at #10. All three Henry brothers – Mason, Logan, and Taylor – are on the bench.

The other interest centres on who else will make those top four places, which come with a bye to the Jubilee Cup semi-finals with a win, or a second-life with a loss.

Tawa’s 94-0 win today over a badly outmatched Wellington side this afternoon takes the Lyndhurst side to 47 points and in the box seat for one of those, and they’ll now await outcome of the remaining matches tomorrow to see where they fall and who and where they’ll play next week.

Their interest, along with many others fall to the blockbuster game of the day at the Polo Ground with Oriental-Rongotai (42) hosting Hutt Old Boys Marist (43) and on which so much hinges. The loser would seem destined to miss the top four, but the winner might not be certain unless HOBM, who have that extra point, win with a bonus. Whether either side really relishes the idea of a physical encounter before the playoffs start might be debateable, but having beaten one of your rivals in the lead-in would seem to be a good thing.

No Ardie Savea for Ories this week, so Sammy Se’au comes back in, but at lock with giant winger Herman Seumanufagai deployed on the blindside this week. Declan Hay, Alex Ropeti, and Daniel Tafili also all return, pushing Chicago Doyle back to the left wing. After returning last weekend, young tighthead Nonu Tuia makes his first start of the year for the Eagles in the only change to their pack. Skipper Waylon Tuhuro-Robinson returns but there’s no Brandyn Laursen so Flynn Ruscoe again runs the cutter with Albert Polu outside him. And perhaps expecting a battle up front it’s a 5-2 split on their bench.

The fourth side in that mix are the Upper Hutt Rams (42) who are at home at Maidstone against valley rivals Avalon (4). While form suggests that this should be five points for the home side, the Wolves have tripped over teams before and that will almost certainly be their goal tomorrow. The Rams will be hopeful of getting into that top four, but will likely in a result in their favour tomorrow from Polo.

The Rams again have Salesi Rayasi this week after his late inclusion last Saturday and he lines up again at fullback. The ageless Josh Hunt starts at seven this week, and Tynan Barrett starts at first-five over Potene Rolls-Paewai. It’s a milestone day for two Rams; Francisco Wolfgramm starts at tighthead in his 50th games, and Todd Svenson brings up 100 as he starts at centre.

Avalon’s side for tomorrow sees the versatile Ale Peni make the rarely-seen switch from midfield last week to the front row this time out. Lock Mark Savelio starts in his blazer game, with Ramese Taualofa filling Peni’s place in midfield alongside Tobi Oliver.

For Paremata-Plimmerton and Marist St Pats (both 38), there’s virtually no chance of making the top four, and even being in position to host one of the elimination games next week would require maximum points and also be heavily reliant on the outcome from the Polo Ground. The Swindale holders sign off their tenure by heading to William Jones and a Wainuiomata (30) side that has hit form just a little too late in the year and will be very keen to take the scalp of a Jubilee side, while the Hammerheads desperately need a good performance for momentum heading into next week. MSP are also on the road at Helston Park against Johnsonville (23); the Hawks have been the Evans Bay outfits nemesis in recent seasons but after having pushed OBU to the brink last Saturday as the hosts form has cratered in recent weeks the visitors will be confident here.

Wainuiomata have just a single change from the side that started against Johnsonville with Mikaede Fono back at centre and Regan Gray shifting to the wing in place of Renata Kotuhi, and they’ll again look to their twin wrecking balls of veterans Teru Time and Tyler Tane for go-forward. Pare-Plim likewise have just the one change with Alex Fidow back at No8 and a reshuffle seeing Zeek Fiso taking a seat. Lions squad winger Joseph Faleafaga in on the bench for his first action since being injured in the opening rounds.

Johnsonville’s side for tomorrow has Jake Wetere and Regan Herbert returning to the front row alongside skipper Ha’amea Ahio. Livewire openside Tyler Hall is also back, alongside Jack Taulapapa who slots into first-five with Niall Delahunt going to fullback, with Jacob Walmsley also returning. MSP swap veteran locks James Zino and Nick Harrison for tomorrow, but it’s a rejigged backline. After starting every game this season at first-five Rique Miln dons the #9 jersey with Grayson Whitman and Sefo Aukustino both moving in a place for Jack O’Brien to return at centre, with Dallas Natoli at fullback. But there’s a blast from the past on the bench with veteran Peter Sciascia – who’s last Premier came in 2017 and won the Best & Fairest as far back as 2006 – in the team supplied to us.

Another bumper weekend for interclub trophies:

  • OBU and Norths play for the Ken Douglas Trophy. Douglas, who passed away in late 2022, was a trade unionist who rose to lead the Council of Trade Unions, and in 1999 was appointed to the Order of New Zealand. Educated at Wellington College, amongst the many, many things he was involved in his life was the Titahi Bay club, and he was amongst those instrumental in the merger with Porirua and creation of Norths where he remained a great support until his death. OBU hold it from their 37-23 win last season.
  • Poneke and Petone contest their F.J. Tilyard Memorial Shield. Fred Tilyard was one of four brothers from Poneke’s glorious post-WWI era; Fred and Jimmy were both All Blacks with Harry and Brun making the Wellington representative side. After playing Fred was a club administrator for 20 years. One of the oldest trophies in Wellington, it was put in play in 1958 and is held by Petone after winning 43-28 last year.
  • The Bondy Memorial Cup is the immediate prize for Ories and HOBM. Don Bond is a titan of Ories’ long history filling almost every administrative position after his playing days and was afforded Life Membership. Tragically he never saw his beloved club with the Jubilee Cup as it passed away just weeks before their 2011 win. HOBM won it 56-26 last year.
  • Tawa and Wellington play for their Murray & Alan Mexted Cup, with the two brothers having each turned out for the two clubs in their playing days. Tawa are the holders from their 77-7 win last year. Tawa will also defend the Bill Brien Challenge Cup and look to lock that away for the summer.
  • The Upper Hutt Rams and Avalon contest the Harper Vine Trophy. Tammy Harper played for the Taita club and was the first Life Member of Avalon. He had a longstanding intense rivalry with Bob Vine from Upper Hutt with the two locking horns many times on and off the field. Put in play by their families, it’s held by the Rams from their 17-7 win last season
  • The last trophy is the Smith & Wilson Cup between Wainuiomata and Pare-Plim, which was put in play a few seasons back by the then Premier coaches of each club; Daniel Smith of Wainuiomata and Justin Wilson, Sr of Pare-Plim. It’s held by Pare-Plim from their 60-19 win last term.

A reminder again about the tiebreaker rules:

  • If two or more teams are tied for the Swindale Shield, the trophy is shared.
  • If two teams are tied on the same number of points, their seeding for the playoffs is determined by who won the head-to-head matchup during the round-robin. If that match was drawn (eg Pare-Plim and Upper Hutt), then the team with the better points differential will have higher seeding
  • If three or more teams are tied, then they will be seeded by:
    • Most wins in the round-robin, then
    • Points differential, then
    • Points scored

In the event they share the Swindale, Petone holds the tiebreaker over OBU. The head-to-head tiebreakers held by each of the other six teams are:

  • HOBM over Tawa and MSP
  • Ories over Upper Hutt and Pare-Plim
  • Tawa over Upper Hutt, Ories, and Pare-Plim
  • Upper Hutt over HOBM and MSP, and their points-difference is currently superior to Pare-Plim’s
  • Pare-Plim over HOBM and MSP
  • MSP over Tawa and Ories

All Premier matches are 2.45pm kickoffs

Premier 2 Harper Lock Shield

An 11th win from their 13 outings will be enough to secure the trophy for the first time since 2017 for OBU (55) when they host Norths (24) at Rugby League Park tomorrow, but should they falter then Tawa, who went to 57 points with their 83-12 thumping of Wellington (18) will return it to the same place its spent the past three summers at Lyndhurst.

With their playoffs following the same format as the Premiers the top eight is locked in with two matches tomorrow between sides that will be there; Poneke (42) hosts Petone (49) at Kilbirnie Park and not too far away Ories (33) welcome HOBM (47) to Polo. Johnsonville (22) hosts MSP (23) at Newlands Park (12.30) in a clash between two sides destined for the HD Morgan Memorial section, while Upper Hutt (29) hosts Avalon (14) and Pare-Plim (38) head to Mary Crowther and bottom-placed Wainuiomata (13) (also 12.30pm).

All matches are 1pm unless stated

Colts Paris Memorial

The trophy might already be staying at the Hutt Rec but there’s still plenty of jostling for position with the grade being split into two divisions for the playoffs after next week’s final round. Leaders HOBM (55) head to the Polo Ground to face defending grade champions and third-placed Ories (41) in the game of the round, with second-placed Petone (42) at Kilbirnie Park against Poneke (23). The Upper Hutt Rams and OBU (both 41) are both at home against Avalon (17) at Maidstone and Norths (33) at Rugby League Park respectively, MSP (39) on the road to Helston and a clash with Johnsonville (7). The final match tomorow has Wainuiomata (7) hosting Pare-Plim (15) at William Jones, with all at 1pm bar the OBU v Norths game.

In the match played today Tawa (43) left it late to beat Wellington (9) 14-10 at Redwood Park.

Under 85kg JC Bowl

Barring a massive boilover, the Tawa Ducks (45) should be hoisting the JC Bowl tomorrow as they only need a point from their clash against Wellington (24) at Redwood Park to be outright winners. The OBU Scallywags (40) would need maximum points from their match against HOBM (26) at the Hutt Rec and the Axemen doing them a huge favour in order to grab a share. Elsewhere Poneke (29) host MSP (4) in the lightweight Battle of Kilbirnie, Johnsonville (23) and Petone (2) take to Newlands Park, and Pare-Plim (17) head for HW Shortt and a clash with Eastbourne (5). Avalon (35) has the bye.

All matches are at 2.45pm


Just two matches in the Premiership tomorrow, both out east of the Mt Victoria Tunnel. In Strathmore there’s the eastern suburbs derby clash between Scots and Rongotai, while St Pats Town hosts St Bernard’s at Evans Bay, with both underway at 2.30pm.

The HIBS v Silverstream clash scheduled for this afternoon has been deferred, as has tomorrow’s match between Paraparaumu and Tawa. The fifth match in the round between Wellington College and Wairarapa College had already been postponed owing to Wellington’s involvement in their Quadrangular tournament this week.

One game was played today in Premier 2, with the unbeaten Silverstream 2nds winning away against their Rongotai by 29-5. Tomorrow’s matches have the Town 2nds hosting Aotea in the 1pm game at Evans Bay, followed at 2.30pm Porirua hosting Taita at Jerry Collins Stadium and Hutt Valley HS will look to rebound at home from their loss last weekend against Bishop Viard. The Wellington College 2nds now have the weekend off after strugglers Naenae withdrew from the competition midweek.


The final round of matches in the Manawatu Senior 1 competition is already half completed with Kia Toa keeping their unbeaten season going with a crushing 67-17 win over College Old Boys last night at the Arena. The sole game tomorrow has Massey hosting Feilding Yellows with the students already locked in to host a semifinal next week and Yellows already out of contention. Old Boys Marist has the bye, with all four teams in the “Bottom Four” section also having the weekend off.

Just two matches this round in Horowhenua-Kapiti. The Rahui machine rolls into Levin to face College Old Boys at the Domain while Foxton head the other way to meet bottom-placed Paraparaumu. Shannon, Waikanae, and Levin Wanderers get to put their feet up.

Just two rounds remain in Wairarapa-Bush before the playoffs, and all eight sides are still in with a chance at the main prize. Marist’s 22-12 win away today against Eketahuna means that they are now guaranteed to host a semi-final in two weeks’ time while the northerners will wait to see what they face next weekend.  In tomorrow’s matches East Coast, Greytown, and Masterton Red Star all must win, but face daunting challenges. Coast host third-placed Pioneer at Whareama, the Rams are in wine country against Martinborough who are just a point outside the main playoff places, and Greytown head up SH2 for the local derby with second-placed Carterton. This latter match sees long serving referee and current WBRRA President Chris Jefferies referee his 200th Premier match in the province; congratulations from us.

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