Above: Full steam ahead for OBU No. 8 Teariki Ben Nicholas last weekend against Wainuiomata (photo Stewart Baird). Top: Marist St Pat’s right wing Willie Schutz crosses the chalk against Norths (photo Andy McArthur). Both OBU and MSP are seeking bonus point wins tomorrow over Paremata-Plimmerton and Oriental-Rongotai respectively – but will that be enough?
Draws & Teamlists for the 10th round of Swindale Shield matches HERE
- By Scott MacLean
It’s set for a tense afternoon in the Premier ranks as the fields for the Jubilee and Hardham Cups will be found with two teams set to miss out competing for the province’s ultimate rugby prize. Elsewhere other grades either finish their first round or get closer to it, and the College Premiership gets underway.
It’s also Old Timers’ Day at Hutt Old Boys Marist, Johnsonville, and Wellington.
Premier Swindale Shield
In Douglas Adams’ book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the number 42 was the answer to the meaning of life; for five of the Premier contenders the magic number is 32, being the points total that guarantees them a place in this year’s Jubilee Cup regardless of results elsewhere. For the other two – OBU and MSP – they’ll need more than their own victories to make it.
Before we get into the games themselves, a reminder of the WRFU’s tiebreaker rules:
- If two teams are tied on points for 7th place, then the winner of their head-to-head clash goes through. If those teams didn’t play each other, or did and it was drawn, then points difference will be used.
- If three or more teams are tied the sequence is the most wins in the round, followed by points difference and then points scored.
Starting in the Eastern Suburbs Oriental-Rongotai (31) might be in third place but aren’t yet safe. While they are in a much better position than at the same time last year when their fate was also reliant on Petone and just need one point, they’ll be hosting a suddenly in-form Marist St Pats (26) side that simply must get the maximum five points to be a chance to continue their decades-long streak of playing in the Jubilee Cup. However, the fact that they’ve won fewer games than any of the other contenders is a handicap they may be unable to overcome.
The Magpies will be defending the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy they took from Norths three weeks ago and run out almost the same side that will have to start better than they did last Saturday. Alex Ropeti makes his first start of the year with Malachai Unasa moving to the wing and Reuben Va’a to the bench. MSP are without props Vince Sakaria and Tietie Tuimauga, while Billy Proctor is now away with the U20s. Tui Tuia and Steve Moli step up into the front row, while the other Thompson Twin – Leo – debuts at centre. Both sides also have Hurricanes players made available to them; Ories are permitted 40 minutes from Alex Fidow and may also yet have Xavier Numia, while MSP have Gareth Evans who will start at No.8
The second game of serious interest is at the other end of the harbour, with Petone (30) hosting Poneke (31) in their FJ Tilyard Memorial Shield clash. Fred Tilyard was one of four brothers in a famous Poneke family; all four were Wellington representatives in the 1920’s with Fred and Jimmy both becoming All Blacks. Fred won four Wellington championships and after his playing career was a club administrator for 20 years.
Neither side needs to win – bonus points will be enough to get to 32 – but that is a rather large risk to be taking. As well as their interclub trophy at stake (Poneke won 36-19 last year), there’s also the possibility of fallout after last years acrimonious player registration saga which began with Petone challenging that Poneke had played unregistered players and ended when Poneke were able to counter-claim that Petone weren’t squeaky-clean themselves.
Petone almost unchanged from their romp over Avalon, with Pasi Uluilakepa now on Under 20s duty and replaced by Marcus Roil. The other is in the backs where youngster Josh Onekawa steps in at centre for Taurima Morris. Poneke have just one change, with last weeks hooker Andrew Jones making way for Dane Coles. The All Black and Hurricanes rake pulls on Poneke colours for the first time in two seasons and makes his first start at hooker for his club since the 2012 Hardham Cup final when he scored a try in their win over OBU.
Out at Maoribank Park it’s the visitors Tawa (27) that also control their own destiny, as a bonus-point win over the Upper Hutt Rams will seem them reach that 32 number and safety, but anything less and they could be at the mercy of results elsewhere. As it transpired the Rams’ own win last Saturday wasn’t enough to keep their Jubilee Cup hopes alive, but they could drag Tawa down with them. As you’d expected in the circumstances Tawa have set out their stall with a side to do the job they need with a handful of changes from last weekend, while the Rams have also rung a number of moves.
It’s a similar situation for Wainuiomata (29), who head again into the city to face Wellington at Hataitai, albeit just a win will be enough to book their return. However despite their recent wins over Ories and OBU, they’ll have to be wary of an Axemen side that has been much better on home soil than away from it. Both sides are much changed, with Wainuiomata without the trio of TJ Va’a, Peter Umaga-Jensen, and Josh Robertson-Weepu that have been so influential in those victories. Wellington don’t have Sam Gard’ner, but James Poliniati returns as does Hilton Mexted who’ll line up in Axemen colours for the first time in two years.
The seventh side in the mix is Old Boys-University (26), who after their loss to Wainuiomata find themselves on the outside looking in and needing other results if they are to even be able to defend their title. They’d be odds-on to do what they can and take a bonus-point win against Paremata-Plimmerton at Nairnville, but it will be information from elsewhere that will be just as precious. The Goats aren’t leaving much to chance in starting a formidable looking side, with plenty on the bench too if required, while the visitors get some more of their injured group back into their line-up.
There are two matches that have no bearing on the race for the Jubilee Cup. After their win coupled with Norths’ loss, Hutt Old Boys Marist have claimed the trophy for the season and both they and Norths are the only teams already through to the Jubilee Cup. They meet at the Hutt Rec and while much of the sting has been taken out of the game there are still the matters of the Eagles unbeaten streak, Norths needing to rebound from last week’s first-half horror, and an edge ahead of their next meeting. To that end both sides are at near enough full strength, though the visitors are without captain Parekura Lalaga, while Joe ‘Apikatoa will make his return to Wellington club rugby from the Eagles bench. HOBM will be presented with the Swindale Shield after the match, which should be a fitting end to their Old Timers Day.
The second of these matches is at Helston Park where Johnsonville and Avalon meet with both already off to contest the Hardham Cup, and the Hawks go looking in front of their Old Timers Day crowd for their first success of the season.
All seven matches are underway the normal time of 2.45pm.
Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield
Its something of a dead rubber weekend in the second-tier with MSP having retained the trophy with their win over the only remaining contender in Norths, and several sides waiting to find where they’ll spend the rest of their season because of where their Premiers finish up. MSP will look to keep their unbeaten streak going when they head to Ories, and Tawa and Norths both go across to the valley to face the Upper Hutt Rams and HOBM respectively. Petone and Poneke clash at the Rec, while elsewhere Wainuiomata are at Wellington, OBU host Pare-Plim, and Avalon are at Johnsonville.
All seven matches are at 1pm
Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy
Having taken the lead with their win over Norths last Friday night, Oriental-Rongotai (34) have the bye this time around and can secure the trophy next week against MSP. Before that though there’s another round this weekend. Norths (26) will look to get back to winning ways when they host Wainuiomata tonight under lights at Ascot Park, while tomorrow Poneke and Marist St Pats (15) will contest their own Battle of Kilbirnie. Elsewhere Hutt Old Boys Marist (12) and Paremata-Plimmerton (11) meet in midtable clash at the Hutt Rec, and Old Boys-University (12) will see if they can lower Petone (26) when they meet at Te Whaea.
All four matches are at 11.30am
Colts Paris Memorial and JRD Cup
With a win this weekend, OBU Green (29) can wrap up the Division 1 title for the first-round when they host Pare-Plim (11) at Te Whaea. Marist St Pats (26) are the only side that can catch them, and they head to Maoribank to face the bottom-placed Upper Hutt Rams (5) while hoping that the Ngati Toa-based side do them a big favour back in the city. Outside of this, there’s still a fight on to avoid the automatic relegation-place for round two, as well as the possible second one. The Rams simply must win, Tawa (7) and Petone (10) will attempt to put themselves out of reach when they meet at Lyndhurst, while Pare-Plim aren’t yet completely out of danger either. The fourth match is between HOBM and Norths at the Hutt Rec, which has no bearing on either end of the table.
In Division 2 Ories have already wrapped up the title and have the bye. That second place is at stake when OBU Black and Poneke meet at Ian Galloway Park, while Wellington and Wainuiomata go looking for their first win when they take to Kilbirnie Park at 12.30pm. The third match is tonight at 7.30pm with Johnsonville and Avalon meeting at Alex Moore Park.
All Saturday matches are at 1pm unless noted.
With the Tranzit Festival, Premier qualifying, and other grading having wrapped up the College season moves completely into competition mode. We looked at the upcoming Premiership season yesterday, along with the opening round of games that grade as well as Premier 2.
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