The Swindale Shield will be a month old after this weekend’s fixtures and if the top four remains undefeated, a distinct gap will open between the leaders and the rest.
Perhaps the match of the round is at Jerry Collins Stadium between 2019 Swindale Shield champions Hutt Old Boys Marist and Jubilee Cup holders Northern United. The Eagles have won their opening three matches and have achieved 14 out of a possible 15 points on the table.
Norths, at last, opened their account last Saturday with a 77-0 win over Wellington to reside in seventh place on five points.
Norths posted half a century in the second half with Malachai Unasa bagging a hat-trick and the bench increasing an already high standard. The Eagles defeated Johnsonville 59-5, after racing to a 40-0 halftime lead and with Brandyn Laursen finishing up with four tries and 32 points.
This will be a brutal tussle up front between two of the bigger and more mobile packs in the competition. Expect a similarly close scoreline to the 22-18 margin in favour of Norths in the last meeting.
Old Boys University should have little trouble against Johnsonville as they defend the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy at their home-away-from-home at Wellington College. Sam Reid scored three tries as the students cruised to a routine 57-12 victory over Paremata-Plimmerton. The Hawks can take heart from their second-half fight against the Eagles. Captain and centre Andrew Ellis scored his first try in blue and black hoops.
Petone could nudge into the top four by breaking MSP’s unbeaten run when they meet at the Village for the Bill Elvy Memorial Trophy. Last week, Petone overpowered Avalon 57-5 with Tom Carter and Logan Henry each scoring two tries. MSP foiled Wainuiomata 27-10 with a powerful first-half.
Carter marking MSP second-five James Proctor will be a mouth-watering clash while there will be fireworks in the loose with the likes of Josh Southall, Isaac O’Connor and Tom Horan fighting for potential Lions spots. Regular MSP fullback Andrew Wells is set to play his 100th match for the Scarlets in this game. This fixture was drawn 24-24 last year, while members of the two teams that played in the Jubilee Cup final in 1980 (won by Petone) will be present and marking the 40th anniversary of that match.
The boot of Alex Ropeti propelled Ories to a narrow 21-17 victory over the Upper Hutt Rams while Tawa was pushed even closer by Poneke, hanging on grimly for a 17-15 win. The last Ories versus Tawa meeting was a classic with a Steven Va’a hat-trick giving the Magpies a 32-27 success at Lyndhurst Park, the scene of tomorrow's clash. Tawa will back their lineout and set piece to unsettle Ories young backs who can strike from anywhere.
The Upper Hutt Rams are back at Maidstone Park and will fancy their chances of a second win, against 12th placed Avalon. Scott Sevenson’s personal haul of 17 points and the industry of Jack Wright and Murphy Taramai pushed Ories to the brink. The neighbouring clubs meet for the Harper Vine Trophy tomorrow.
Wellington missing out to Norths was their largest loss since re-joining the Swindale Shield in 2014. If the injuries suffered by starting flankers Max Allen and Sam Gard’ner from that match endure, William Jones Park and Wainuiomata is a daunting road trip. Wainuiomata pushed MSP but are seeking greater attacking accuracy. Lock Tutasi Masoe has scored three of his sides’ four tries. These two sides play tomorrow for the Bill Jones Cup.
Poneke hosts Paremata-Plimmerton. Simon Hickey had his first run in the capital since signing for the Hurricanes and Suitulala Filemoni scored two tries for the street kids in a tight loss to Tawa. For the visitors, Shane Hedges is set to bring up 100 Premier games.
All Matches kick-off at 2:45pm. The home team is listed first:
- Norths v HOBM
- OBU v Johnsonville
- Petone v Marist St Pats
- Poneke v Paremata-Plimmerton
- Tawa v Ories
- Upper Hutt Rams v Avalon
- Wainuiomata v Wellington
The fourth round of Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield matches see Norths, Tawa, Petone and Ories out to extend their winning starts to the 2020 season.
Tawa and Ories meet each other in the early game at Lyndhurst Park in the feature clash of the round. Petone Blue and MSP also promises to be a tight battle, with MSP's round one loss to Norths their only blemish in over a year. The Norths second team is in rampant form but should face stiff competition against HOBM on the Hutt Rec.
Elsewhere, Poneke will be searching for their third win, against Paremata-Plimmerton, while the OBU - Johnsonville fixture is on Kilbirnie Park #3 at the earlier kick-off time of 12.30pm. Wainuiomata host Petone White and Stokes Valley and the Avalon Wolves contest the Roger Mildenhall Cup at Delanay Park at 2.45pm on the latter’s Old Timers’ Day.
Leaders Oriental Rongotai have the fourth round bye in the Premier Women's competition, leaving the Avalon She-Wolves a chance to join them on 15 points after a month of the Rebecca Liua'ana Trophy when they play Marist St Pats under lights at Fraser Park at 7.30pm tonight.
MSP suffered a narrow 19-24 loss to HOBM last Saturday so will be eager to bounce back, while HOBM are hosting Northern United on the Hutt Rec so will need to be peak form. The other match sees the OBU Impalas return from their bye to host Poneke at Nairnville Park and Petone win by default against Paremata-Plimmerton. All remaining Women's matches are at 11.30am.
Just HOBM Green are unbeaten after two rounds of the Paris Memorial Trophy Colts competition. HOBM have had two bonus point wins heading into their feature clash tomorrow against Norths Blue at the Hutt Rec. Norths Blue have had a draw against defending champions OBU Green and a big win over the Wellington Axemen so far.
OBU Green host Johnsonville at Kelburn Park in their fixture, while the Upper Hutt Rams are in action for the first time when they host OBU White at Maidstone Park. The other two Colts games see Petone hosting Tawa on the Petone Rec #2 and Poneke welcoming Norths White on to Kilbirnie Park #2. The Wellington Colts have the bye. All Colts games kick off at 1.00pm.
The U85kg JC bowl enters its third round tomorrow, with defending champions the Avalon Wolves and the Wellington Axemen playing on Fraser Park #1 at 2.45pm. The Upper Hutt Rams and the OBU Scallywags are the two teams on maximum points so far, with the Rams playing the HOBM Howlers on the Hutt Rec at 2.45pm and the Scallywags playing Eastbourne across the water at H.W. Shortt Park. Poneke and the Wests Rooster meet on Kilbirnie Park #2 at 2.45pm in the fourth match of the day. MSP have the bye.
A full round of Mike Copeland Cup Reserve Grade fixtures is scheduled tomorrow. Ories, the Paremata-Plimmerton Punters and the Upper Hutt Rams J8s are all on 10 competition points after the opening fortnight. Ories play the OBU 69ers at Ian Galloway Park at 1:00pm, the Punters play the Poneke Ruffnuts on Kilbirnie Park #3 and the J8s meet the OBU Teddy Bears at Maoribank Park, alongside the match between the UH Pirates and OBU Pink Ginners.
The third UHR side, the Thirsty Rams, meet the Axemen on Trentham Memorial Park, while the MSP Internationals and the OBU Righteous Park have the Evans Bay Park #1 fixture. The Wests Roosters Mixed Veges have the bye. Reserve Grade games kick-off at 2.45pm.