Marist St. Pat's and Tawa emerged as emphatic winners as atrocious conditions accompanied the opening afternoon of second round Wellington club rugby Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup competitions on Saturday.
In a biting southerly and squally showers, MSP announced their 2012 Jubilee Cup championship credentials with a resounding 28-11 win over first round champions Hutt Old Boys Marist. A small but hearty crowd braved Evans Bay Park to watch the home team score three second half tries and keep HOBM scoreless in the second 40 minutes.
A committed second half forwards effort and some clever play from halfback Peter Sciascia and then from first five-eighth Fa'atonu Fili at the end paved for the way MSP's bonus point win.
As well as having in a hand in MSP's only try of the first half and making several big defensive plays at the base of rucks and scrums, Sciascia took a quick tap from a penalty in the 55th minute and darted through to score the game's decisive try that put MSP ahead 18-11.
MSP extended their advantage to 23-11 with a third try, to hooker Liu Taituave, held off a determined Eagles period of attack and then Fili caught HOBM short with the very last play of the game with a well-weighted crosskick across to unmarked left wing Johnny Gbenda Charles. The debuant winger just had to pick up the ball and cross the tryline to score his second and MSP's fourth try of the match.
At Lyndhurst Park, Tawa underlined their first round dominance over Petone, scoring a decisive 37-3 win over the visiting Villagers. Tawa's forwards were again outstanding and they took the game to Petone and reaped the rewards with a four tries to nil victory.
With the wind in the first half, Tawa raced to a match winning 23-3 lead by the turnaround, through penalties and tries to No. 8 Stephen Sasagi and lock Pati Gaualofa. There was no let-up after the break for Petone as halfback Steve So'oialo crossed to put them ahead 30-3 and then Gaualofa sealed the win with this second try of the day.
The other two Jubilee Cup matches were much tighter.
At Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt and Norths scored one try apiece and fought out a 10-10 draw. Upper Hutt scored in the first half through centre Joyner Key to put then ahead 7-3 at halftime, before flanker Dean Brunsdon finally crashed over for a converted try for the Bulldogs with about 15 minutes to go.
At William Jones Park, defending Jubilee Cup champions Oriental-Rongotai defeated home side Wainuiomata 11-6, opening up an 11-0 lead late in the first half with centre Paulo Aukoso crossing after a run by halfback Sean Hay and then holding on in the second in the difficult conditions.
In the Hardham Cup, Rimutaka overtook MSB B midway through the second half and then held on into the stiff wind and in deteriorating conditions to win 17-13. In a hugely committed second half performance, Rimutaka took the lead through left wing Jesse Dolman and they kept MSP out for the rest of the match to record their first win of the season.
Earlier, Rimutaka first five-eighth Ray MacDonald had missed two early penalties before a kick into the corner forced the MSP defender to run the ball in touch. From the resulting lineout drive hooker James Mei came up with a try and the Rams led 5-0.
MSP regrouped and took the lead through a penalty to first five-eighth Ciaran O'Brien and a similarly constructed try from a lineout drive to prop Mau Simeona. Rimutaka were making mistakes and dropping off tackles and MSP soon punished them for not finding touch from a penalty. Counterattacking from their own side of halfway, MSP kicked and chased and lock Thomas Veitch bounded through to score to put MSP ahead 13-5.
But it was all Rimutaka from that point on, retaining possession and putting phases together. Their reward was a sniping try to halfback Isaac Marriner right on halftime, converted by fullback Jayden Watene, and Rimutaka turned into the stiff wind and with dark clouds brewing trailing 12-13.
The opening exchanges of the second half were tight, MSP failing to play for territory and Rimutaka retaining possession through their own committed play and a succession of penalties in their favour. The key play came midway through the half when lock Troy Jordan made a break in centre field and found prop Jamie Pita in support. Pita surged towards the line but was brought down short. Rimutaka recycled and Dolman went over in the corner to put Rimutaka ahead 17-13.
The rest of the match was an arm-wrestle between the 22s as the heavens opened and the rain came down. Closing in on victory, Rimutaka kept the heat on MSP, who had a late chance to win the match at the end after winning a turnover inside Rimutaka's 22. But the Rams held on and referee Mexted blew for fulltime.
Premier hopefuls Johnsonville also earned an important first-up win, beating Norths B 28-8 at home at Helston Park. Johnsonville won the game in the first half by laying on three unanswered tries, to lock Campbell Tait, No. 8 Mykel Herewini and fullbacm Azim Beganovich, and took a 22-3 lead into halftime.
A much more competitive performance in the second spell from Norths denied Johnsonville an extra try and a bonus point, the home side having to settle for two further penalties to first five-eighth Scott Mudgway.
In the battle of the Swindale Shield clubs, OBU were too strong for the fledgling Wests Roosters in their 29-0 win over them at Ian Galloway Park. OBU scored the only try of the first half from a quick tap penalty with a Wests player in the sin bin and went to the break leading 7-0.
The students took their opportunities with the wind behind them, opening Wests up four more times and taking maximum points from their victory. Prop Stu Simonsen, lock Tim Fergusson, No. 8 Steve Aki and wings Luke Fiso and Te Wehi-Wright were their try scorers.
Poneke supporters weren't happy about their opening Hardham Cup game against Wainuiomata B being moved from William Jones to Mary Crowther Park, but they needn't have worried as their side opened its Premier 2 campaign with a 45-0 win.
Six individual try scorers got themselves on the scoresheet, with JC Jonck, Stefan Vos, Brad Faulkner, Michael Sage, Peter Shand, James Solomon and veteran Fa'atoto Moananu all scoring tries. First five-eighth Cameron Clement kicked five conversions.
In the first round of Senior 1 Ed Chaney matches there were notable first up wins for defending champions Petone over Tawa, 13-6 and for the newly promoted Wellington Axemen 20-13 over mid-table Harper Lock Shield finishers HOBM.
Favourites OBU beat Paremata-Plimmerton 15-7, Avalon comfortably defeated Ories 44-3 and newly promoted Upper Hutt held fourth placed first round Senior 1 finishers Poneke to 9-7.
In the Senior 2 HD Morgan Memorial OBU and HOBM were the two bonus point winners, OBU beating Wests 33-0 and HOBM defeating MSP 26-7. Avalon and Ories battled to a 12-12 draw, Petone edged out Norths 16-12 and Stokes Valley defeated Poneke 12-3.
In fourth round Victoria Tavern Women's Premier matches, Norths made it four from four with a 28-8 win over Ories, Wainuiomata grabbed their third win of the second round with a 24-12 victory over Stokes Valley and OBU beat Eketahuna by default with the latter struggling to make the trip over the hill in the wintry weather.
In fourth round Premier college First XV matches, Wellington College defeated Aotea College 36-0, St Pat's Town edged out St Bernard's 10-6, St Pat's Silverstream beat HIBS 24-0 and Scots College defeated their neighbours Rongotai 37-5.