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UPDATED SUNDAY: They are still on the outside looking in, but on the strength of today’s 46-29 win over fellow top seven battlers Tawa – and the manner of their performance – Marist St Pat’s supporters can breathe easier for now.
MSP’s first half against Tawa today at Lyndhurst today was superb, their forwards playing with hunger and controlled aggression and the Proctor brothers, flyhalf James and centre Billy, both standouts in the backs, as MSP leapt to a 29-7 well before halftime.
There were more than a few anxious moments in the second spell as home team Tawa launched a comeback and at one stage closed to 24-32 through tries to centre Pepesana Patafilo (2) and Hemi Fermanis, none of which were converted, but MSP scored twice more in the dying embers to seal a well-deserved victory.
Tawa had started their comeback during the closing stages of a 50 minute first half, but were held out by spirited defence and only conceded a yellow card to bustling hooker Valentine Meachen in a key period of the match
They again absorbed early second half pressure and it was James Proctor’s monster penalty that started the second half scoring, extending MSP’s lead to 32-7 and proving too much for a revitalised Tawa to come back from.
The second half also featured two classy and popular tries from Tawa centre Patafilo, both off kick and chases and winning the race to the ball in the in-goal.
A non-place in the Jubilee Cup would also affect MSP’s Premier Reserves, who are clearly the best team in the Harper Lock Shield but they would also go down to Division 2 along with their top team. MSP’s second XV had an impressive 53-12 win over Tawa in the early match in what was a top of the table match.
Up at Redwood Park, MSP’s Colts also continued their hot start to the season, beating Tawa’s 51-10 in their Les Mills Paris Memorial Trophy encounter.
Despite some blowout scorelines, each of the other six round seven Swindale Shield matches today played around the Wellingon region in dry, windy conditions were closely fought.
The big match of the day was the Jimmy Grbich Shield game at the Polo Ground between home team Oriental-Rongotai and Poneke, with Ories taking it out 21-15.
Ories led 7-5 at halftime, absorbing oodles of early pressure to take an rare opportunity and score from with Paulo Aukuso linking up with centre Malachai Unasa for the converted try.
Poneke hit back moments before halftime when Greg Foe broke up the shortside from an attacking scrum and fed wing Nick Robertson a try.
After two near-chances, Ories made sure of the try on the third attempt when first five-eighth Malo Manauo crashed over after a concerted period of phase play off an attacking scrum. Poneke cut Ories’ lead to 14-8 with a penalty, before Ories replacement midfielder Paula Kinikinilau came straight into the game by intercepting a Poneke pass and scooting through to set up a try to Unasa to make it 21-8. Poneke lock Nathan Smith scored for Poneke, but Ories held on to win.
Ories also won the Premier Reserve curtain-raiser 18-14.
At Hataitai Park, the Old Boys University Goats were pushed hard by the Wellington Axemen. OBU established a 3-0 lead, before eventually scoring their first try to wing Trevahn Ta’ufo’ou, after a lineout error by the Axemen. Prop Morgan Poi scored for the Goats immediately before the interval to give them a 17-0 buffer.
The Axemen came back to 17-10 through a try to lock James Poloniati and a penalty, but the Goats were able to pull away win the match for the Dean Gifford Memorial Cup 36-10.
OBU won the Harper Lock Shield contest 36-5.
It was a similar run of play at Helston Park, where the Johnsonville Hawks put up a good showing for much of the game against Petone.
Johnsonville had first use of the wind and tailed 10-14 at halftime, but the Villagers were able to pull clear in the second 40 minutes to score seven tries to win 45-10.
Petone prevailed 65-5 in the early game at Helston Park.
The theme of the winning team pulling clear in the second half also rang true at the Hutt Rec and Porirua Park.
At the Hutt Rec, unbeaten leaders Hutt Old Boys Marist beat Avalon 36-22, but the Wolves were right in the match at the break when behind 12-14 and turning to play with the wind in their favour.
The Eagles were able to score two quickfire tries soon after the oranges that proved enough to hold out the Wolves and retain the Billy Herbert Memorial Trophy.
Scores were reversed in the HLS curtain-raiser with the Avalon second XV beating HOBM 41-27.
At Jerry Collins Stadium, Northern United were playing in former Porirua club colours against Paremata-Plimmerton in their fixture for the Ivan Hargreaves Trophy.
Losi Filipo scored an early try for Norths to give them a 5-0 lead, but Paremata-Plimmerton, who had a number of players under the weather with the flu, replied to make it 5-5. After missing out a try last week against his old club Ories, No. 8 Luca Rees crossed for his 10th try of the season to put Norths ahead 10-5 at the break.
Norths then flew in for a pair of fast tries early in the second spell to extend their lead to 20-5, before pulling clear to win 58-5. The score could have been greater but for just one conversion being successful.
Norths won the early game against Paremata-Plimmerton 88-0.
Over at William Jones Park, home team Wainuiomata beat the Upper Hutt Rams 58-25 in an entertaining game.
Wainuiomata scored first early in the game to TJ Va’a who found space after a kick ahead and maintained dominance throughout the remainder of the first half as they flew to a 31-6 by halftime.
The Rams staged a comeback in the second half but basic lineout errors proved costly and they were left to rue not being able to deliver quick ball to their speedsters out wide. The game for the Peter Jones/Dave Ritchie Cup was sealed for the home team with a rampaging run by second five-eighth Peter Umaga-Jensen and then a 50-metre penalty to fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu.
In the early game, Wainuiomata had beaten the Rams 38-20.
In Division 1 Les Mills Colts Paris Memorial Trophy matches, MSP made it four from four with their 53-10 win over Tawa, while OBU Green also took their fourth straight win by beating Petone 26-12.
In the other two Division 1 matches, HOBM Green defeated the Upper Hutt Rams Colts 26-14 and Norths edged Paremata-Plimmerton the Year of our Lord 19-18.
Johnsonville had a 24-22 win over Wainuiomata in Colts Division 2, while OBU Black beat Wellington 39-24 and Ories beat Poneke 28-7.
In fifth round Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy matches, there were sizable margins of victory for all four winners in this weekend’s fifth round set of matches.
On Friday night, the Petone Ponies beat Wainuiomata 91-3, with centre Sieni Mose again a standout in scoring three tries and kicking eight of a possible conversions for 31 points.
At Ngatitoa Domain today, a well-rested Ories came back from their win by default last week with a 47-10 win over Paremata-Plimmerton.
Ories were fast out of the blocks and had the game won inside the first quarter with the first three of their nine tries being scored. As always, Ories were far too slick when they moved the ball – and that was at every available opportunity. Black Fern try sensation Ayesha Leti-L’iga crossed for five tries. Paremata-Plimmerton shored up there defence as the game developed but the damage had been done.
Up at Jerry Collins Stadium, Northern United flew to an 83-7 win over Hutt Old Boys Boys Marist. Lock/flanker Syntyche Tuimaolo scored a hat-trick and first five-eighth Teina Puketapu was one of four players to score braces whilst also kicking the goals and scoring 28 points.
The Old Boys University Impalas beat Poneke 78-12 in the third match of the day. The standout performance was fullback and former international cricketer Thamsyn Newton scoring 46 points including six tries. Second five-eighth Emily Dalley scored two tries.
MSP had the bye in the Women’s grade.
In the U85kg JC Bowl, last year’s championship finalists the Upper Hutt Light Rams and the Avalon Hungry Wolves both earned their fourth straight wins of the season today.
The Rams beat MSP 36-20 and the Wolves defeated the HOBM Howlers 21-17.
Elsewhere, OBU beat Paraparaumu 15-14, the Johnsonville Terrahawks beat Eastbourne 33-18 and Wellington overcame Wests 38-19.
In First XV rugby this afternoon, Wellington College lost 24-40 to Gisborne BHS, Scots College beat Palmerston North BHS 35-31, St Pat’s Town drew 26-26 with Napier BHS and St Pat’s Silverstream lost 5-14 to Hastings BHS in today’s opening round of the Hurricanes Tranzit series in Masterton.
In local grading qualifiers, the scores were: