A series of close games and come-from-behind wins has marked the second round of both the Premier Swindale Shield and Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield competitions, played on another glorious day around the region on Saturday.
With the exception of a couple of blowout results, the rugby was generally hotly contested, as teams again battled the prevailing warm weather and hard grounds as well as their oppositions.
Northern United and Oriental-Rongotai sit atop the Swindale Shield with two bonus point wins, while Poneke and Hutt Old Boys Marist are the other two unbeaten teams.
The Northern United – Old Boys University Premier Reserve match ended in a 19-19 draw after OBU chased down a kick and ran in a late try, and it seemed the Premier contest that followed was heading the same way at 25-25 with two minutes to play.
But, livewire Norths first five-eighth Esi Komaisavai intercepted a pass in general play and sprinted 60 metres to score the match-winning try and see his side retain the Ken Douglas Trophy with a 30-25 victory.
In a tight seesaw match, OBU had taken a 15-10 lead into halftime, weathering waves of Norths possession and territory at the other end, to counterattack and score two forwards tries from their only two clear chances of the half.
Norths broke open the game immediately after halftime, with a turnover from a lineout on halfway and a runaway try, but OBU hit back once more when second five-eighth Izzy Foai joined his forwards at close-quarters and dived over to keep the game on tenterhooks.
At Fraser Park, Oriental-Rongotai’s top team won relatively comfortably against Avalon but not without the home team threatening a comeback with a burst of try-scoring themselves midway through the second half.
Ories had too much firepower out wide in the first half, as wing Tuga Mativa’s hat-trick helped them to a 29-7 halftime lead. This soon became 41-7 with two more tries. but Avalon struck back to close the deficit to 41-24 after 55 minutes and it was game on. However, the scoring dried up completely and that became the fulltime score.
The Harper Lock Shield match at Fraser Park saw Avalon leading Ories 19-7 at halftime and still ahead 33-21 after 65 minutes, but a late burst by Ories gave them a 42-33 win.
At Lyndhurst Park, Hutt Old Boys Marist edged Tawa 25-24, pipping the home side after scores were deadlocked 10-10 at halftime when Tawa centre Pepesana Patafilo burst through to score under the bar.
Tawa lost a player to the sin-bin after the break, leading directly to a HOBM try and a 17-10 lead for the Eagles. Tawa hit back with a try to hooker Tony Coburn to lock it up at 17-17, then took the lead when left wing Faraimo Nofoaiga scored and flyback Sam Clarke converted. Trailing 17-24, the Eagles came back to win at the end with a try and a penalty.
For HOBM, Centre Jordan Bradbrook, first five-eighth Anthony Utanga and prop Rei Manaia scored their three tries and halfback Sheridan Rangihuna found his range off the kicking tee.
Tawa won the Harper Lock Shield curtain-raiser 70-14.
The Upper Hutt Rams supporters can thank a strong second half at home at Maoribank Park from their Premiers, as that propelled them to their 46-26 win over the Wellington Axemen. After a tightly contested first half and a tense third quarter, the Rams came through late to take their 20-point victory.
Openside flanker Dan Schrijvers scored a hat-trick, his brother Hayden scored one try and fullback Tyler Tane scored two in the seven tries to four win for the Rams.
The Rams won the Premier Reserve early game 73-5.
At Ngatitoa Domain, home side Paremata-Plimmerton pushed Poneke hard throughout the main match, before going down 17-37.
As they always do playing at home, Paremata-Plimmerton brought a lot of early energy to the encounter and they applied all the early pressure and opened the scoring. It was 10-10 late in the first half, before Poneke took the lead for the first time to take a 15-10 lead into the break.
Poneke’s Moananu coaching duo of Misipalauni and Toto made strategic personnel changes at half time, up front and in the midfield and this soon paid off as they pulled clear in the final quarter. Fullback Michael Sage finished with two tries.
Poneke won the earlier Harper Lock Shield game against Paremata-Plimmerton 57-8.
At William Jones Park, home team Wainuiomata overcame Petone 18-13 to win the Darren Larsen Cup that is played between these two sides.
There was little room given defensively by both teams, as Wainuiomata led the Villagers 13-10 at halftime and battled hard in a sloppy second half to win. Petone, missing several key players for this match, were left to rue moments of inaccurate play and handline errors. Wainuiomata physicality in the breakdown proved telling, but poor discipline also let them down and they were reduced to 13 players at one point. Lock Teru Teru and left wing Saita Tuaoi scored their only two tries.
Roles were reversed in the early match at William Jones Park, with Petone winning 41-17.
Marist St Pat’s were the day’s biggest winners, over-running the Johnsonville Hawks 71-5 at home at Evans Bay. MSP won 10 tries to one, with eight individuals crossing the whitewash and wings Ricky Manulaiatea and Iosefo Aukusitino bagging braces. Centre Willie Shultz slotted nine conversions and a penalty for 21 points.
For Johnsonville, their only try was scored by replacement lock Taewa Rima.
MSP’s Premier Reserves and defending Harper Lock Shield champions overcame the Hawks second XV 101-5.
MSP, Tawa and Ories are three teams unbeaten on 10 competition points after the first two rounds of the Harper Lock Shield.