The fourth round of the Swindale Shield and Harper Lock Shield tomorrow sees four venues in town and in the eastern suburbs, one in Johnsonville, one in Khandallah and one in the Hutt. The First Grade and U85kg teams are also underway.
It is Old Timers' Day tomorrow at Petone. Festivities kick off from 12 noon in the longroom under the Grandstand at the Petone Rec. Cash only bar, no eftpos. All ex players, supporters and sponsors are welcome. It is the first of two big weeks at the club with the McBain Shield against Hutt Old Boys Marist next Saturday.
Johnsonville v Wainuiomata
Referee: Greg Binning
Venue: Helston Park
Johnsonville won eight games in the Hardham Cup last year and appeared to be on an upward ascent. Three losses to start 2018 has squashed that promise.
Johnsonville needs to get desperate to revive their season. Senior players Kane Thompson, Api Naikatini and Jeff Makapelu simply have to step up and show some steel.
Wainuiomata haven’t been great, but should have Wellington Lions Peter Umaga-Jensen and Marvin Karawana, a try scorer last week, in their backline. With good ball these two could cause plenty of strife for Johnsonville.
Marist St Pat’s v Paremata-Plimmerton
Referee: Mike Pinfold
Venue: Evans Bay Park
Paremata-Plimmerton has only won two out of 37 Swindale Shield matches in the past three years, but one of those was last Saturday.
MSP produced their best display so far against Wainuiomata seven days ago, winning 44-19. Centre Ryan Setefano scored two tries.
Prop Teariki Kie Tonga is growing in stature for Pare-Plim and along with MSP big man Meinard Fitisemanu is one to watch.
Old Boys University v Upper Hutt Rams
Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Jordan Price
The Jubilee Cup champions against the Hardham Cup champions could result in a routine victory for Old Boys University.
The Rams been disappointing thus far, dropping all three matches and conceding 118 points. By contrast OBU slipped in week two against Wainuiomata, but have amassed 115 points in three games.
OBU wing Tai Neli scored three tries in a dazzling display last week. If the Rams don’t tackle Neli could enjoy similar fruits. The match could be decided up front though, with OBU's pack sure to put their opposites under pressure.
In their first home match of the year, the Goats also put up the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy for the first time.
Oriental-Rongotai v Avalon Wolves
Venue: Polo Ground
Referee: Daniel Mangin
Ories were well beaten in their first home game of the season and have slumped to 1-2 in 2018.
Avalon is typically an opponent they would expect to beat easily, but the Wolves have started the year with two wins and despite being outclassed by Old Boys University only conceded two tries in the last hour.
Watch for Sefo Aumua (Avalon) and Luke Taualupe (Ories) who are in outstanding touch in the loose. Andrew Ellis returns to the Ories backs, while Ambrose Curtis again lines up at fullback.
Petone v Tawa
Referee: Nick Hogan
Venue: Petone Rec
Tawa have won the last three matches against the Villagers and will be smarting after their shock loss to Poneke.
Petone after a narrow loss on March 17 have punished Pare-Plim and Upper Hutt in the last fortnight.
Both teams could be missing players to the Hurricanes Development team, who play in Napier tonight.
Both packs are to be pretty even, though Tawa are more explosive if they get a roll on so Petone will have to meet fire with fire and be accurate at set-piece.
Expect a tight one here.
Poneke v Northern United
Referee: Vincent Ringrose
Venue: Kilbirnie Park 2
The feature match on the Saturday Rugby Round Up on Te Upoko O Te Ika 1161am is being played on the No.2 ground because the top field is being upgraded by the council for the next month.
Poneke stunned Tawa away from home last Saturday and in Greg Foe and Cole Stewart boast two of the form forwards of the competition.
Norths are equally effective in the forwards and have an edge out wide, but can they utilise that advantage against Poneke who after conceding 50 in the first round have strengthened their defence.
The Cyril Collett Memorial Shield is at stake in this contest.
Wellington v Hutt Old Boys Marist
Venue: Hataitai Park
Referee: Steve Newson
Hutt Old Boys Marist are seeking to join the great Norths side of 2010 by scoring 40 or more points in their first four games of the season. Hutt have thrashed Upper Hutt, Norths and Ories so far this season and will be favoured to beat Wellington who were gutsy against Norths on Easter Thursday, but succumbed 33-8, conceding 25 points in the last quarter.
Chase Tiatia and James O’Reilly are missing from HOBM's line-up, with the Hurricanes Development team, but can the Axemen down the rampant Eagles forward pack?
Youngsters Jordan Gillies and Rei Manaia are in career best form for Eagles who should roll on.
Harper Lock Shield
Unbeaten frontrunners Poneke and Northern United meet in the early game at Kilbirnie Park in a feature Premier Reserve match.
Poneke have so far shown good organisation in putting away Old Boys University, the Upper Hutt Rams and Tawa, while Northern United have had three consecutive bonus points, over Petone, Hutt Old Boys Marist and Wellington.
The Porirua team have been second half specialists in their previous two matches, burning off both HOBM and the Wellington Axemen in the second 40 minutes. They beat HOBM 62-12 last Thursday night after leading 10-5 at halftime. This is Poneke’s first home game so want to build on their 28-20 win over Tawa last Saturday.
Marist St Pat’s are the other unbeaten team and they will be looking to extend that record against winless Paremata-Plimmerton at Evans Bay Park.
Winless duo Wainuiomata and HOBM will both be hoping to get on the board, Wainuiomata playing Johnsonville in the early game at Helston Park and HOBM meeting Wellington in the 1.00pm fixture at Hataitai Park.
The first round of the First Grade Thompson Memorial Cup gets underway tomorrow. This week’s First Grade matches are (home teams first): Northern United v Marist St Pat’s, HOBM v Stokes Valley B; Petone v Avalon; Stokes Valley A v Poneke; Tawa v Old Boys University.
The U85kg season starts also commences tomorrow with a three-round knockout competition