Semi-final qualifying, securing home playoff spots and promotion-relegation considerations are all in the mix in a colossal final regular round weekend of Wellington Jubilee and Hardham Cup rugby of the season.
The situation in the Jubilee Cup sees three teams - Oriental-Rongotai, Marist St Pat's and Northern United - already confirmed as semi-finalists and this week playing for home semi-finals and up to three more - Wainuiomata, Tawa and Hutt Old Boys Marist- fighting it out for the one playoff spot still available.
The Jubilee Cup leaders Ories and MSP play each other in the heavyweight clash of the final round at the Polo Ground in a match likely to decide who qualifies in top spot for a home semi-final and who wins the Andy Leslie Trophy as winners of the round-robin series.
Third placed Norths can finish inside the top two ahead of one or both of the leading duo if they beat Wainuiomata at William Jones Park with a bonus point and MSP beat Ories without a bonus point. If Ories beat MSP, Norths can still finish second providing they overcome Wainuiomata.
However, a bonus point victory could be easier said than done for Norths. Firstly, they are up against a plucky Wainuiomata side gunning for the playoffs themselves and in their home territory. Secondly, William Jones Park is not conducive for high scoring results and multiple tries being scored given its heavy underfoot nature.
Similarly there was nothing in it when Norths and Wainuiomata clashed in the first round for the Alf Keating Memorial Trophy, with a 15-15 draw the final result. It was even tighter when they met in this corresponding clash last year, with Wainuiomata scoring a late equalising try to give them a 7-7 draw.
Will there be a final round twist for the fourth Jubilee Cup semi-final place? Hutt Old Boys Marist supporters certainly hope so.
As it stands heading into the last round, Wainuiomata are in the fourth semi-final position and on track to earn an historic Jubilee Cup playoff spot. They are level on points with Tawa but Tawa are in fifth behind them by virtue of their 5-10 loss to them earlier in the round.
The equation for Wainuiomata is simple: beat Norths with a bonus point and they are in the semi-finals regardless of other results - namely the clash at the Hutt Recreation Ground between HOBM and Tawa.
Should Wainuiomata lose to Norths then they will be relying on Tawa also losing to HOBM, but preferably not with a bonus point. HOBM could leapfrog both of these sides and finish fourth. To do so they will need to beat Tawa and rely on Wainuiomata losing to Norths without a bonus point. It is feasible that all three could finish level on either 15 or 16 points, in which case HOBM will go through.
Eagles supporters will also be buoyed by the fact that their team has won the last 10 straight Premier matches against Tawa and the most recent two by bonus point margins.
HOBM's winning streak over Tawa extends back to the 2005 Swindale Shield round when Tawa clipped them 26-23. Their last two encounters have yielded 27-10 and 29-18 wins, both with four-try bonus points.
In the other Jubilee Cup match that won't have any bearing on the semi-finals, seventh placed Upper Hutt host eighth placed Petone at Maidstone Park for the right to avoid the wooden spoon at the end of the round-robin.
Both are coming off heavy defeats in round six, Upper Hutt missing out to HOBM 17-64 and Petone losing to Norths 12-59. In the first round these sides fought out a 22-22 draw for the Connelly Cup, so this could be a close game.
In the Hardham Cup, Poneke can guarantee top qualification for next week's semi-finals ahead of Old Boys University provided they can beat Rimutaka at Maoribank Park.
But Rimutaka will be going all out for an upset that could propel them into the semi-finals ahead of either Wests or MSP B who clash at 3.00pm at Ian Galloway Park.
Last week Rimutaka beat Norths B 36-28 to record their first win at home this season and their third in six games, while they held Poneke to just 13-24 there in the very first Swindale Shield match of the season, so they will be confident of securing some competition points from this clash.
At the same time, MSP B can make the semi-finals, possibly at the expense of the Wests Roosters, if they beat the Roosters in their clash.
Sixth placed Johnsonville are out of semi-final contention, but will be hoping for a big last match against OBU on the occasion of the students' 21st birthday at their new temporary home of Rugby League Park.
At Mary Crowther Park, Wainuiomata B and Norths B clash to decide who ends the regular season in eighth place.
With the business end of the season fast approaching, the competition in the lower grades is just as hot.
In the Senior 1 Ed Chaney Cup most of the 10-team field is still in with a chance of reaching the semi-finals with three rounds to go, but this weekend's action could see more contenders drop off the pace.
With five wins from six, the Wellington Axemen (on 23 points) are out in front but just nine points separate second placed Petone (19) and ninth placed Upper Hutt (10) ahead of some keenly anticipated matches this weekend.
In a top of the table clash, frontrunners Wellington and Petone clash at the Petone Recreation ground at 1.15pm, where a win for Wellington would almost certainly clinch a home semi-final at Hataitai Park with two weeks to spare and victory for defending Ed Chaney Cup champions Petone would likely put them through to the playoffs. Both are coming off contrasting results. Wellington beat fifth placed Avalon 41-3 in round six while Petone went down to eighth placed OBU 14-48.
In a key mid-table Senior clash Avalon and fourth placed Poneke meet at Fraser Park at 3.00pm. Poneke also lost last week, going down narrowly to Paremata-Plimmerton at home.
As part of Avalon's Junior Club day, the William Webb Ellis Cup will be on display at Fraser Park from 12.00pm to 3.00pm. Members of the community are welcome to come and view the shining symbol of world rugby supremacy and also have their photo taken with it.
Last week's winners Paremata-Plimmerton and OBU can climb further up the table if they defeat teams currently ranked below them, with Paremata-Plimmerton playing ninth placed Upper Hutt at Maidstone Park at 1.15pm and OBU meeting last placed Ories at Te Whaea at 1.15pm. Likewise the winner of the HOBM and Tawa match at the Hutt Rec at 1.15pm can climb right into semi-final contention with two rounds remaining after this.
In round seven of the Senior 2 HD Morgan Memorial Trophy, unbeaten Hutt Old Boys Marist (on 28 points) can qualify for a home semi-final with two rounds to play if they beat mid-table Stokes Valley (15) at home at the Hutt Rec at 1.15pm.
Second placed OBU (24) can probably qualify for the semi-finals with a fortnight in hand if they overcome mid-table Norths (11) at Martin Luckie Park at 1.00pm.
Third placed MSP (22) meet eighth placed Ories (7) at the Polo Ground at 1.15pm, Poneke (11) travel to Fraser Park at 1.15pm to play Avalon (6) and fourth placed Petone (19) encounter winless Wests (2) at Ian Galloway Park at 1.15pm.
In the Senior 3 competition semi-finals this weekend, top qualifier and unbeaten Wainuiomata hosts fourth placed Johnsonville at Mary Crowther Park and second placed HOBM and third placed MSP meet at the Hutt Recreation Ground.
In the 10th and last regular season round of Victoria Tavern Women's Premier matches before next week's playoffs, Wainuiomata (on 32 points) have the chance to be the top qualifier if they can beat Norths (35) at Porirua Park. OBU (26) can clinch third if they beat Stokes Valley (7) at Delany Park, ahead of Eketahuna (23) who travel to the Polo Ground to play Ories (10).
In Premier 1 First XV quarter-final action, Wellington College warmed up for next week's semi-finals with a 40-5 win over eighth placed Aotea College on Wednesday afternoon.
Wellington College, who defend their Quadrangular title next week in Christchurch, will play the winner of Saturday's fourth versus fifth quarterfinal between St Pat's Town and St Bernard's in their semi-final.
The other two quarterfinals on Saturday to decide the semi-finalists on the other side of the draw see second placed St Pat's Silverstream play their Upper Hutt neighbours and seventh placed HIBS, and third placed Scots take on eastern suburbs rivals and sixth placed Rongotai.The head-to-heads in the just completed round-robin saw St Pat's Town edge out St Bernard's 10-6, St Pat's Silversteam beat HIBS 24-0 and Scots beat Rongotai 37-5.