Finals Day set to showcase club rugby at its best

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A bumper crowd is expected at the Petone Recreation Ground tomorrow afternoon, where Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted and eight finals will be played.

The day starts with the Colts Division 2 final kicking off at 12 noon, with the feature Jubilee Cup final getting underway on the main ground at 2.30pm.

Jubilee Cup Final: Northern United v Old Boys University

For a second year in a row the lower ranked of the semi-final teams will contest the Jubilee Cup decider, with third placed Northern United hoping to reverse their 2018 final defeat to fourth-placed Old Boys University.

Despite finishing the Swindale Shield below MSP and Petone, OBU boats the best defence in 2020 and Norths the best attack.

Norths won the 2019 final 25-16 against Wainuiomata, surging to a 19-3 lead after half an hour. In 2018 the Goats led Norths 25-3 at halftime, which suggests the start is pivotal.

Both clubs burst out of the blocks last Saturday. Norths led Petone 41-3 at halftime and the Billy Goats never trailed MSP.

Norths dismantled Petone with a vintage display of power, skill, and spontaneity. OBU were more methodical in their suppressing of the Scarlets. This is not to say Norths can’t play structure, nor are the students absent of flair, but the way in which both teams go about achieving success is likely to be different on Saturday adding to an already juicy affair.

OBU beat Norths 33-16 in Round 2 of the Swindale Shield.

Old Boys University 2020

Played: 14

Won: 11

Lost: 3

Points For: 489 (70 tries)

Points Against: 188

Three Key Players:

Jonathan Fuimaono - The inspirational captain has started in three previous finals and won them all. A menace with ball in hand his contest in the scrum with Jerome Vaa’i will be telling.

Sam Godwin - Represented Canterbury in 2017 and has been a rock in a student pack hurt by injuries and representative selection. Smart, precise, and experienced, the Billy Goats lineout will be built upon his wisdom and skill.  

Sam Reid - Has scored a dozen tries this season and is a contender to win the Billy Wallace Best & Fairest award. With space Reid is a proven finisher.  

Norths 2020

Played: 14

Won: 11

Lost: 3

Points For: 571 (86 tries)

Points Against: 218

Three key players: 

Gerard Faitotoa - The loosehead prop was a human wrecking ball in the final last year and performed in a similar vein in the semi. Norths will look to Faitotoa to set an imposing physical tone early and also pressure in the scrum.

Bruce Kauika-Petersen - Promoted to the Wellington Lions on the back of a career best season, Kauika-Petersen has at times resembled Du'Plessis Kirifi in 2020. A proven poacher at the breakdown, Kauika-Petersen has added greater punch to his running game. Named at openside flanker, If he were to miss the final it would be a massive loss for Norths.

Sam Clarke - Played a blinder against Petone on Saturday with two tries and 23 points. Appears to have a big match temperament but may be subject to some early defensive tests which if conquered could see the youngster really blossom.

Hardham Cup Final: Wainuiomata v Hutt Old Boys Marist

Wainuiomata proved their finals credentials again when they upset Tawa 19-11 in the semis. Tawa had won four on the trot and beaten Wainuiomata 31-3 in the Swindale Shield but 16 points from Tyler Tane and a gritty forward effort earned Wainuiomata a third straight tilt at a trophy.

Greg Lealofi, Teru Time and Matt Jacobs excellence seems timeless while rookies Ruben Love and Sam Smith are finding their feet again after injury.

HOBM have won more games and scored more tries than Wainuiomata in 2020. Brandyn Laursen has had another stellar season and Josh Brown and Rei Manaia are key forwards. The Eagles need to dictate the pace and start strongly to avoid defeat. The Eagles have scored 65 tries compared with 44 by Wainuiomata.

These same two sides also met in the 2014 Jubilee Cup final, in perhaps one of the biggest matches played in the Hutt Valley in the modern era. A big crowd is expected on Petone Rec 2. 

The third Premier match tomorrow sees Poneke and the Upper Hutt Rams meet on Petone #3 at 12.10pm in the 9th v 10th match.

Both sides will be eager to finish their seasons on a high, in what would have been for the Hardham Cup decider until three seasons ago when the ‘top 8’ sides would contest the Jubilee Cup.

Poneke are coming off a 24-8 win over Paremata-Plimmerton last weekend, whilst the Upper Hutt Rams beat Johnsonville 33-18. 

Earlier this season, it was the Rams that got up over Poneke, winning 15-10 for the Alby Makeham Shield back in round seven at the end of July. Nothing short of a similar result is expected tomorrow. But who will win? 

There are three Premier Reserve grade finals being decided.

Northern United and Marist St Pats have clearly been the top two sides in Premier Reserve all season and meet on Petone 2 at 12.20pm in the final of the Ed Chaney Cup.

Norths went through the first round Harper Lock Shield unbeaten with 12 wins from 12 games played, they scored an impressive 733 points and conceded just 129. 

MSP were not far behind, the second placed qualifiers boasting a first round record of 10 wins and one loss – their sole defeat all year was 10-43 to this same Norths teams back in June on the opening weekend of the season. 

Both teams filled with current fringe, former and future Premier players, making this final an expected high quality and hard-fought affair. MSP are also the defending champions in this grade.

In last week’s semi-finals, MSP beat Hutt Old Boys Marist 49-20, while Norths were pushed all the way by Petone before winning 29-22. 

The Premier Reserve tier 2 HD Morgan Memorial Cup final is between Poneke and Old Boys University.

This is the 5th to 8th final this year, so both clubs will be eager to finish their 2020 year on a high in this grade

Like the Ed Chaney Cup decider, these two teams met back on the first weekend of the season, with Poneke winning 15-13 in appalling conditions at Nairnville Park. 

In last week’s HD Morgan semi-finals were both close, with Poneke edging Oriental-Rongotai 25-22 and Old Boys University beating Tawa 33-30 in injury time.

The third Premier Reserve decider is for the Johnsonville Centennium Cup, between the Johnsonville Cripples and Stokes Valley.

Stokes Valley enter this decider having beaten Paremata-Plimmerton 37-29 in their semi-final, while Johnsonville defeated Avalon by default so will be coming into this final fresh. 

There are two Colts grade finals at the Petone Rec tomorrow, with the Division 1 John E Kelly Cup and Division 2 Vic Calcinai Memorial Cup both on the line.

The John E Kelly Memorial Cup is the curtain-raiser to the Jubilee Cup on Petone Rec 1, kicking off at 12.30pm.

This is between defending champions Old Boys University Green and Norths Blue – the same two clubs contesting the Premier final that follows.

OBU Green are gunning for their third straight title, after also winning three in a row between 2012-14, while Norths haven’t won this since 2010.

In last week’s semi-finals, OBU held off Tawa 18-10 and Norths defeated 2017 winners Petone 45-27. 

The two teams finished first and second in the first round Paris Memorial Trophy, and they drew 26-26 when they met at Ian Galloway in their opening match of the year in June. 

The Colts Division 2 final is for the Vic Calcinai Memorial Cup, between the second OBU team (OBU Black) and HOBM Green. 

HOBM finished two spots higher than OBU Black in the first round, but OBU won their encounter 25-10. 

Schedule for the day

Petone #1
12:30pm       John E Kelly Memorial Colts Final – OBU Green vs Norths Blue
2:30pm         Jubilee Cup Final – Norths vs OBU

Petone #2
12:20pm       Ed Chaney Cup Final – Norths vs MSP
2:20pm         Hardham Cup Final – HOBM vs Wainuiomata

Petone #3
12:10pm       HD Morgan Memorial Final – Poneke vs OBU
2:10pm         Premier 9th-12th Final – Poneke vs Upper Hutt Rams

Petone #4
12.00pm        Vic Calcinai Memorial Colts Final – HOBM vs OBU Black
2:00pm         Johnsonville Centennium Cup Final – Johnsonville vs Stokes Valley