Above: The Wainuiomata and HOBM teams observe a moment’s silence at their start of their opening Swindale Shield in commemoration of the recent Christchurch shootings.
Round One Draws & Results HERE
It is important to start well in a 10-round competition, and the old guard Petone and Poneke both did just that today in the opening round of the season in hot conditions that reached the mid-20s.
Both Petone and Poneke had key away wins to start their seasons against other teams expected to be staking their claims for the Jubilee Cup in the second half of the season.
Both sides capitalised on some inaccurate and often sloppy play by their oppositions to opening their 2019 campaigns in the winners’ column.
At Lyndhurst Park, Petone beat home side Tawa 41-22, which included no fewer than four tries scored directly off Tawa dropped passes in the backline or intercepts.
Flanker Mateaki Kafatolu led a tireless Village pack that also had big shifts from tighthead prop Pasi Uluilakapa and returning lock Eduan Struwig, that took the game to their Tawa opposites and forced a succession of lineout and general play mistakes on them. First five Paraone and Fine were on hand to scoop up four tries between them off dropped balls and intercepts. Tawa got back in the game late in the contest, principally through their scrum, and a possible grandstand finish instead became a formality for Petone when Fine sprinted 95 metres to score his brace.
At Evans Bay Park, Poneke toppled Marist St Pat’s in the ‘Battle of Kilbirnie’ and for the Horan-Millar Trophy 25-21, after taking an 18-0 into halftime.
Poneke first five-eighth Pakai Turia kicked two penalties and converted his own try to put Poneke ahead 13-0, before hooker Andrew Jones crossed the chalk to give the street kids a decisive lead. It got better for Poneke early in the second half when MSP flanker James Tuia was sin-binned and Poneke wing Royce Tonumaipea scored soon after to put up 25-0.
MSP hit back with three tries of their own to cut the margin, but ran out of time to effect a comeback win. Perhaps just as worryingly for MSP supporters were injuries to flyhalf James Proctor and fullback Andrew Wells.
The Avalon Wolves started their 40th season off with a win, beating the Wellington Axemen 27-15 at home. Second five-eighth Jordan Aquila scored two of three first half tries in their 19-5 halftime lead. Axemen prop Jason Bird scored to close the gap to 10-19 but flanker Sefo Aumua scored to clinch the win. For Wellington, returning loose forward Sam Gard’ner scored their other two tries.
Over the Wainuiomata hill, it was visitors Hutt Old Boys Marist who overcame sweltering valley conditions to defeat the home team 37-19. Fullback Glen Walters scored two tries as the Eagles extended a halftime 13-7 lead to 27-14 and held their advantage to fulltime. Left wing Salesi Rayasi was also full of running and flanker Jordan Gillies was as busy as he was last season.
Up the road further, Old Boys University opened their season by beating the highly fancied Upper Hutt Rams 30-6 at their 2019 home ground Maoribank Park. OBU held a 10-6 lead after 20 minutes and then led 23-6 by halftime, their forwards on top. That score remained until late in the match before OBU sealed their win with a penalty try.
The remaining two Swindale Shield encounters perhaps went as suggested pre-game, with Northern United and Oriental-Rongotai winning well against last year’s Hardham Cup sides.
Johnsonville found themselves well off the pace at Jerry Collins Stadium, with home side and defending Swindale Shield champions Northern United prevailing 76-17. Norths led 35-0 at halftime and more than doubled their score in the second stanza of play.
Paremata-Plimmerton were out-muscled on their home turf by Oriental-Rongotai, the visitors winning 57-0. Ories did most of the scoring in the second half after leading 10-0 at the conclusion of the first 40 minutes.
In the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield, last year’s champions Marist St Pat’s kick-started their year with a 46-22 win over Poneke.
Tawa held on to beat Petone 43-40 in a thriller, after cruising to a 24-0 late in the first half. Petone came back to twice the deficit to 10 points, and then to three points when Cam Ferreira scored in the corner. But Tawa had the deciding say with an intercept try a few minutes from the end.
The Upper Hutt Rams and Wainuiomata second XVs both reversed their Premier results that were to follow. The Rams beat the OBU Goats 15-12 and Wainuiomata defeated HOBM 39-19.
Northern United beat Johnsonville 48-5, Oriental-Rongotai beat Paremata-Plimmerton 45-21 and the Avalon Wolves beat the Axemen second XV 38-15.