Tomorrow’s fourth round of the Swindale Shield is highlighted by an early season top-of-the-table clash at Kilbirnie Park, between home side Poneke and Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Poneke and the Eagles are both unbeaten through the opening three rounds, alongside Northern United who have won two and drawn one and who play the Wellington Axemen at Hataitai Park. These are two of four matches played through the tunnel this coming weekend. A look at the seven individual matches is below.
The second round of the Women’s competition sees three teams that sat out the opening round last Saturday in action. Wainuiomata (first round bye) plays Marist St Pats at St Pat's Artificial tonight at 7.30pm, Poneke (defaulted to HOBM) and Ories meet at Te Whaea at 7.30pm tonight and HOBM (defaulted to by Poneke) host OBU tomorrow at the Hutt Rec at 11:30am. The other fixture tomorrow is between home team Petone and Paremata-Plimmerton at Petone Rec at 11:30am.
In Division 1 Colts action, dual second round feature games are between Norths and OBU on Jerry Collins Stadium and MSP and Petone on St Pat’s Artificial. The Upper Hutt Rams and Tawa at Maoribank and Paremata-Plimmerton and HOBM are between teams seeking their first wins.
The U85kg JC Bowl sees MSP, HOBM and Wellington all scheduled to take the field for the first time after being defaulted to in last week’s opener, while first round bonus winners on the field, Paraparaumu and the Upper Hutt Rams, meet up the line at Waikanae Park.
On the airwaves this Saturday are MSP v Petone on Radio Sport 1503AM, and Te Upoko o Te Ika commentating the Poneke v HOBM match, with the Rugby Round-up starting at 2.30pm on 1161AM and 87.6FM, and online at tunein.com, or teupoko.co.nz
Poneke v Hutt Old Boys Marist
Venue: Kilbirnie Park
Referee: Nick Hogan
The only unbeaten teams in 2019 produced a cracker on ANZAC day in this fixture last year with the Eagles winning 29-22. Expect a similar score line in this tussle.
Despite their big win over OBU last week, the Eagles have made a handful of changes for this match, including Glen Walters who moves into first five-eighth in place of Anthony Utanga. Both sets of loose forwards are top-notch with Lise Soloa (HOBM No.8) and his opposite James Mose showing out.
Poneke have Greg Foe and Pakai Turia back in their side for this one, while loosehead prop Hennie Tui plays his 50th match.
The two teams play for the Roy John Trophy.
Old Boys University v Avalon Wolves
Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Steve Newson
OBU suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday, thumped 17-38 by HOBM, while Avalon were humbled 3-33 by Wainuiomata on their Old Timers Day.
OBU have a new and young loose forward trio of Sam Godwin, Shamus Langton and the relatively inexperienced Paddy Carter who are all growing each game.
Openside Logan Blake returns from last weekend off, but Avalon’s scrum and tight five will have to step up considerably to beat the Goats on an expected soft track at Nairnville Park.
OBU won this fixture 40-12 last year with Tai Neli scoring three tries.
Marist St Pats v Petone
Venue: Evans Bay Park
Referee: Richard Gordon
The traditional powerhouses have made an inconsistent start to 2019. MSP were made to pay for a slow start against Poneke, overpowered Johnsonville before being stunned by Wellington.
Petone defeated Tawa, dropped their guard against Wainuiomata, but held Norths to a 19-19 draw.
Petone halfback Logan Henry is in top form and has taken on the goal kicking duties. Kaliopasi Uluilakepa was selected in the New Zealand Under-20’s last week and Eduan Struwig has been consistent at lock. The Villagers also welcome back flanker Mateaki Kafatolu and flyhalf Piri Paraone, who last played in their 41-22 win over Tawa.
Accurary will be a big focus for MSP this week, who have several young guns lining up for this one including hooker Tyrone Thompson, lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi and No. 8 Keelan Whitman.
MSP and play for the Bill Elvy Memorial Trophy.
Paremata-Plimmerton v Wainuiomata
Venue: Ngati Toa Domain
Referee: Jamie Fairmaid
Paremata-Plimmerton held on to score a gusty win against Johnsonville last Saturday, but Wainuiomata present a much sterner challenge.
Wainuiomata scored five tries in beating Avalon 33-3 on the Wolves’ Old Timers Day and were well marshalled by evergreen halfback Uale Mai and lock Teru Time, who moves into No. 8 tomorrow. Like Norths (below), Wainuiomata make two changes to their inside backs for tomorrow’s game, with Toshiki Hamagishi moving from fullback to first five-eighth and John Monu coming off the bench to second-five. Joshua Robertson-Weepu is fullback, while TJ Va’a comes on to the bench.
Hayden Saunders has been an excellent addition for the hosts. The former Wairarapa Bush wing is running the cutter at Ngati Toa.
It will be an intense forward battle, but Wainuiomata should have too much polish.
Wellington v Northern United
Venue: Hataitai Park
Referee: Andrew Lawler
Wellington stunned MSP last Saturday with a gritty forward display and another first half try from Eremia Tapsell as the Axemen breathed new life into their season.
Can the Axemen chop down Norths?
Norths form took a dip last weekend when they were held to a draw by Petone. Despite outscoring the visitors three tries to one, Norths were unusually inaccurate.
No. 8 Luca Rees scored yet another two tries for Norths and will need to be contained by the Axemen. Norths have tweaked their backline for this Hataitai Park clash, changes including Jayden McCarthy and Losi Filipo the first and second five-eighth combination.
Norths won this fixture connivingly in 2018, but will have to battle the Hataitai Park factor along with the home side.
Referee Andrew Lawler is on Premier debut.
Johnsonville v Tawa
Venue: Helston Park
Referee: Daniel Mangin
Johnsonville let their chance of a win for the first time in 18 games slip against Paremata-Plimmerton. Despite a destructive scrum, Johnsonville couldn’t finish.
Tawa built a lead and held on to foil Ories 22-19 in a match that was must-win territory for them. Sam Clarke made an encouraging fist of first-five and lock Jack Sturmey scored a try. Tawa have left veterans on the bench, so Johnsonville will need to be in the game in the second half to have a chance.
Veteran hooker Hemi Remuera is full of vigour for Johnsonville, while the Hawks will be pushing for a big game from Antony Pettett to help win their dangerous outside backs front foot ball.
The two teams play for the Carmen Cup.
Oriental-Rongotai v Upper Hutt Rams
Venue: Polo Ground
Referee: Jack Sargentina
Ories suffered their first setback of the year last week, pipped by a desperate Tawa. Centre Malachai Unasa continued his impressive form crossing for two tries and he links up with veteran Paulo Aukoso in their midfield tomorrow.
The Upper Hutt Rams were well beaten by Poneke, and a third loss in four games will crush the early season optimism.
Mitchell Markov is back from injury in the seven jersey for the Rams and scored a try last week.
Ories and Upper Hutt typically produce classic tussles. In 2018 the Rams won 36-34 and a year earlier Ories 40-19, scoring three length of the field tries in the last six minutes.
This is for the Bob Lendrum Cup.