Semi-Final weekend delivered some huge results as teams went to battle for Finals spots across five grades. With all Finalists now set, the schedule for Saturday can be confirmed. The venue has now changed also, with the Hutt Recreation Ground hosting all five finals.
The day is set to be a special celebration, not only the success of the teams and players, but a showcase for club rugby in the region. 10 teams representing 9 clubs will contest these finals, with Tawa the one club having two teams in finals.
The day kicks off at 12:10pm, with two matches. First up, The Premier Two Division One Ed Chaney Cup Final between top qualifiers Tawa, taking on Hutt Old Boys Marist, on their home ground.
Tawa, who are unbeaten in the second round of competition, booked their place in the final by overcoming Poneke 30-13 in their Quarter-Final, before defeating Upper Hutt 38-20 last weekend.
Their opponents, Hutt Old Boys had a 22-5 victory over Marist St Pats in their Quarter-Final matchup, before heading out to Jerry Collins Stadium last weekend to steal a 25-24 victory over Norths.
The two teams faced off in round robin back in early June, Tawa the victors that day 40-24 and will be looking for a repeat of that this coming weekend.
Also at 12:10pm, the U85kg Division 2 final, playing for the Tony O’Brien Memorial Shield. This year the final is between the two top qualifiers, Old Boys University and Wellington.
Both teams come into the final with three second round wins from four. When the two teams faced off in Round 2, it finished a 17-all stalemate. With finals footy set to play out extra time if required, this match is certainly one to watch.
Wellington seemingly had the tougher of the two Semi-Final matchups, sneaking home with a 23-19 win over Stokes Valley. They will be looking to go one better than the last two years which have ended up in defeat in the deciders, having last won the competition in 2018 over Johnsonville on a try countback after 110 minutes of play couldn’t separate the teams.
Old Boys’ University on the other hand, came through their Semi-Final with a 38-24 victory over Hutt Old Boys’ Marist, and will be out to continue the title drought for the Axemen.
Moments after that, the Hardham Cup Final gets underway at 12:30pm. This match will see Petone take on Poneke.
Petone, after making the Quarter-Finals for the Jubilee Cup, have been dominant since defeat to Tawa, dropping them into the Hardham Quarter-Final. A 16-0 victory over Paremata-Plimmerton in the wet was then backed up by a flawless 60-7 win over Johnsonville in last weekend’s Semi-Final. Bolstered by the return of New Zealand Under 20’s players Peter Lakai and Riley Higgins, the Villagers are out to win their first Hardham Cup title since a 27-26 thriller over Wainuiomata in 2016.
Poneke on the other hand, qualified top for the Hardham Cup, beginning their charge to the final with a 44-15 victory over Paremata-Plimmerton. Their Quarter-Final in the wet resulted in a 17-0 victory over Wellington. The men from Kilbirnie then headed to Wainui for their Semi-Final against the second team coming down from the Jubilee Cup, grabbing a 46-22 win to set up a blockbuster final. Poneke haven’t won the Hardham Cup since 2014.
In the Swindale Shield round robin matchup between these two sides, Petone were victorious 18-17, although Poneke had a chance to win in the dying seconds.
At the conclusion of those three matches, two more finals will be played, with the U85kg Division 1 and Jubilee Cup Final to go.
At 2:20pm, the U85kg Division 1 Final is set to begin, with the teams playing for the Paul Potiki Memorial Shield where the top two teams from round robin play, Avalon and Johnsonville will do battle. Of the two sides, Avalon have won the title most recently, victorious in 2019.
Both sides had to overcome tough battles in their respective Semi-Finals. Avalon, who went through unbeaten, had to come back from 18-3 down against Upper Hutt, the Wolves scoring three tries in the final 10 minutes to snatch a come from behind 22-21 victory.
Johnsonville took on Round 1 Champions Eastbourne and jumped out to an early lead before the Gulls came storming back from 21-3 down to set up a big finish. Johnsonville however, prevailed 38-32 to book their ticket to the final.
The two sides have crossed paths twice this season already, with Avalon winning on both occasions, with the round robin Paul Potiki shield match ending 15-9, doubling up as a National U85 Barbarians Cup match.
And finally, the feature game of the day, the Jubilee Cup final, this year being contested by Tawa and Marist St Pats. This year is the time since 2017 that Norths have not featured in the final, and is a repeat of the 2016 final, where Tawa took the spoils in a tense battle.
Tawa have hit their straps at the right time of the season, and are coming into the big dance on the back of some impressive results in the knockout stages. Qualifying sixth, a win over Petone kept them in the Jubilee Cup hunt. Then they met Ories in the Semi-Final at the Polo Ground, picking up a 19-14 victory. A victory over the third ranked side set up a Preliminary Final against the fourth seeded Hutt Old Boys’ Marist, on the back of a bye week after defeating top qualifiers Old Boys’ University. Like the week before, Tawa headed into opposing territory and came away with a 29-18 victory to seal their spot.
Opponents Marist St Pats finished the Swindale Shield competition in second. A first up win in the Quarter-Final against Ories sent them straight into the Preliminary Final, where they eventually took on Norths, who had come off wins over Wainui and then a very impressive 13-0 shutout of Old Boys’ University at Nairnville. In the end, MSP were clinical in their match against Norths, running in six tries to come away with a 48-26 victory.
Both teams will head into the final full of confidence, both on the back of some impressive results along the way, but it was Tawa who claimed the victory in the previous meeting of these two sides earlier in the year, taking the spoils 27-23 in Round 8 of the Swindale Shield.
Marist St Pats came away with the First-Round title and will be looking to achieve the Swindale/Jubilee double, last achieved by OBU in 2017.
The schedule for Saturday is as follows:
Hutt Rec 1
- Hardham Cup Final – Petone v Poneke, 12:30pm
- Jubilee Cup Final – Tawa v MSP, 2:30pm
Hutt Rec 2
- Ed Chaney Cup Final – Tawa v HOBM, 12:20pm
Hutt Rec 3
- Tony O’Brien Memorial Shield Final – OBU v Wellington, 12:10pm
- Paul Potiki Memorial Shield Final – Avalon v Johnsonville, 2:20pm