- By Adam Julian and Steven White
Northern United (Jubilee Cup), Marist St Pat’s (Hardham Cup) and Oriental-Rongotai (Women’s Division 1) won the three major finals in Wellington club rugby today at a packed Petone Recreation Ground.
The other finals were won by OBU (Colts Divison 1), Upper Hutt Rams (Colts Division 2), Norths (Premier Reserve Division 1), MSP (Premier Reserve Division 2), MSP (Women’s Division 2) and Avalon (First Grade).
Accounts of the day’s play follow;
Northern United have won the Jubilee Cup for the fifth time, suppressing a spirited Wainuiomata 25-16 in the final at the Petone Rec.
In a decider dubbed the ‘blue collar battle,’ it was Norths’ greater polish, dominant scrum and suppression of the Umaga-Jensen twins which were the telling factors.
Josh Robertston-Weepu opening the scoring with a penalty from 25-metres out, before Norths took control.
First-five Eli Moat’a played with a lot more authority and flair than last week, and his ability to cause doubt in the Wainuiomata defence opened a hole for centre Jayden McCarthy to score the first try from close range.
Second-five Kienan Higgins was an instrumental creator and his sleight of hand, created the most dramatic try of the match. Young lock Waylon Baker was put in the clear and charged 30-metres to the line after Higgins performed a deft offload when tripped to the surface after a short break.
Roberston-Weepu halved the deficit to 12-6, but the beastly presence of Gerard Faitotoa loomed large. Norths lead became 19-6 when the tighthead toppled aside three defenders and slammed the ball down under the sticks.
The Umaga-Jensen twins were tightly marked, but Peter scored before the interval receiving a short pass from Thomas after a stable scrum and right-side rad.
Roberston-Weepu kicked a third penalty at the start of the second-half to make it 19-16 at which point a cliff hanger seemed imminent. However crucial injures to TJ Va’a (first-half) and captain Greg Lealofi (later in the second) hurt Wainuiomata.
Norths defence was stifling and the precision of Campbell Woodmass grew. Two penalties by the halfback, one from 40-meters, stretched the lead to 25-16. Woodmass won the Jim Brown Memorial Medal.
Wainuiomata were game until fulltime, but never looked that likely to breach
Lock Bevan Clark and blindside Marvian Karawana were especially industrious. For Norths Woodmass and Faitotoa were absolute standouts, but there were strong contributions from Du Plessis Kirifi, Pakekura Lalaga and the reserves Qulan Asi and Mike Ioapo.
Marist St Pat’s beat Old Boys University 28-22 in the final of the Hardham Cup on Petone 2.
MSP held off a fast-finishing OBU who won a booming scrum penalty about 40 metres out with only a few minutes to play. This set up a late assault on MSP’s line, but MSP were able to hang on. OBU actually crossed the line to the right of the poles but referee Colin Te Pohe consulted with his AR and the player was adjudged to have knocked on over the line.
Earlier, evergreen MSP flyhalf Fa’atonu Fili had gone from zero to hero by laying on a great pass to centre Isaia Petelo to score a decisive try to put MSP up 25-14.
OBU had led 14-8 at halftime, which included an intercept try to first five-eighth Dale Sabbagh who plucked out a Fili pass and ran 20 metres to score. Their other try was scored by left wing Jack Green.
MSP’s right wing Willie Schutz scored MSP’s first try after they won an OBU lineout and went wide and surged 80 metres up-field, while Schutz kicked a penalty and converted a forwards try early in the second half as they hit the lead at 18-14 with the wind behind them.
Petelo extended the lead with his try, before OBU scored again and both teams added penalties to close it up at to within a converted try and setting up a nail-biting finish.
Both teams were guilty of playing fast and loose rugby too often and both unnecessarily put themselves under pressure. OBU also lost prop and talisman Jonathan Fuimaono and later No. 8 Teariki Ben Nicholas to injury during the game.
Oriental-Rongotai have won the Tia Passi Memorial Cup for the third time since 2014, overpowering reigning champions Northern United 43-10 in the Division 1 final.
Ories achieved their third win in four meetings with Norths this season and have won 86 of their last 100 games, amassing 4678 points.
The key moment of the match was just prior to halftime. Norths was ahead 10-5, but fumbled the kick-off. Ories attacked to the left from the scrum and wing Ayesha Leti-I’iga bustled over in the corner to square the ledger.
It was all Ories in the second-half with Leti-I’iga producing a star turn. Ories went ahead 17-10 with a coverted try, before the Black Ferns winger reccived the ball from just outside her 22, beat multiple defenders and recovered her footing three times to score a solo classic.
Fellow wing Bernadette Roberston was equally effective. She beat her marker for the first try of the match and then applied the icing on the cake with a 40-metre runaway for the last.
Ories forwards paved the way for the emphatic triumph. Props Raylene Lolo and Laina Semu alongside inspirational captain Joanah Ngan-Woo were a hive of activity while halfback Reijeli Uluinayau was a fine conductor.
For Norths fullback Lekah Nelson was lively, lock Santia Levave never stops trying and Leah Conley is an openside of some promise, scoring the first try for the runners up from a quick tap.
Marist St Pat’s won the Women’s Division 2 final 26-0 over Paremata-Plimmerton.
MSP led 7-0 in a first half marked by dogged defence. Hooker Jane Bryce scored their first half try. MSP were also to lose their Black Ferns flanker Marcelle Parkes in the first half through injury.
In the second half, they scored two tries out wide to take the game away from Paremata-Plimmerton, winning the Izzy Ford Cup.
OBU Green beat HOBM Green 31-7 to win the John E Kelly Cup Division 1 Colts decider.
With first use of the wind, OBU made a lively start and left wing Michael Muir had a hand in their only first half try and kicked three penalties including one from halfway. Muir fielded a kick in general play and kicked ahead for fullback Jasper Edgar to score off. OBU led 16-0 at halftime, which could have been more if halfback William Carter had won the race to the ball in the in-goal from another kick ahead.
OBU also lost their other wing Josh Thomas to the sin-bin late in the first half. HOBM got on the board soon after halftime through No. 8 Mikaele Alaifatu, scoring off a 5-metre scrum following a turnover and 90 metre raid up field.
That was as close as they got, as OBU’s swarming defence and impact off the bench began to prove telling. OBU afforded HOBM few chances, which harried the Eagles into errors and poor discipline and more yellow cards came out.
OBU won the game with a pair of tries from penalties and lineout drives. Celebrating victory on the sideline with about 10 minutes to play, Muir sealed the win with a late penalty.
In the Colts Division 2 final for the Vic Calcinai Memorial Trophy, fourth seeds the Upper Hutt Rams came out on top to beat the Avalon Wolves 32-23.
The run of play saw the Rams skipping out to a lead, before Avalon came back to draw level and then the Rams kicking away at the end.
Northern United won the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup final, beating Petone 22-17.
Northern United pulled out to a 17-0 lead by halftime, but Petone came roaring back to draw level at 17-17 through the injection of NZ U20s prop Kaliopasi Uluilakepa andwith a try to replacement fullback Cam Ferreira to level it up.
Norths regrouped and scored the winning try a few minutes from fulltime to wing Jordan Mellars-Rose.
This the second time that Norths have won the Ed Chaney Cup title, but still have a way to go to catch Petone’s 22 titles.
The Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial final was the closest final of the day, with hot favourites Marist St Pat’s edging the Upper Hutt Rams 29-28.
The First Grade Johnsonville Centennium Cup decider was the last final to finish, but also one of the tightest.
Avalon won 32-30, after Stokes Valley had led 8-6 at the end of a dogged first half.
Stokes Valley got themselves ahead 30-25 but lost a player to the sin-bin. From there, Avalon countered and scored what proved to be the winning try with a few minutes to play.
The two U85kg finals were played elsewhere today, with fourth seeds Paraparaumu upsetting top qualifier the Upper Hutt Rams.
Paraparaumu kicked a death-knock 40 metre penalty to win the game, and they will play Avalon in next week’s Paul Potiki Shield decider after Avalon defeated the Johnsonville Terrahawks 22-3.
The Division 2 U85kg semi-finals saw Wellington beat OBU 22-15 and Eastbourne overcome MSP 34-14.
The penultimate round of the College Premiership was tight and willing for the most part.
Rongotai College beat Wellington College 23-20. HIBS beat St Bernard’s 29-26. Kapiti College beat Wairarapa College 15-14. An exception was Scots College beating Aotea College 71-10.