It’s an important third round for all Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup contenders tomorrow, where wins for the early frontrunners could go a long way towards making the playoffs and wins for those teams yet to taste second round success could be vital for their semi-finals chances in a few weeks.
This week’s Jubilee Cup action sees games at Nairnville Park, the Hutt Recreation Ground and Kilbirnie Park, while Hardham Cup action returns to Helston Park, Fraser Park and Hataitai Park.
Northern United (Jubilee Cup) and the Upper Hutt Rams (Hardham Cup) have their byes.
It is the opening weekend of second round Women’s competition matches. The nine teams are now split into two divisions, with the top five finishers from the first round competing for the Tia Paasi Memorial Cup and the bottom four for the Izzy Ford Cup.
The round kicks off with a pair of matches’ side-by-side on the Polo Ground, with defending champions Oriental-Rongotai and Paremata-Plimmerton meeting in a division 1 match and OBU and Poneke in a division 2 fixture. HOBM and Avalon clash at the Polo Ground, while first round winners Northern United will celebrate Patsy Schwalger’s 150th game at home against the Petone Ponies. Women’s games kick-off at 11.30am.
First round division 2 winners Paremata-Plimmerton are gunning for their opening Les Mills Colts second round division 1 win over Old Boys University at Newlands Park in the third round of the John E Kelly competition. The feature match of the round is at Evans Bay Park between first round winners Marist St Pat’s and Northern United, both unbeaten after the opening fortnight. HOBM and the Upper Hutt Rams and Petone and Tawa meet in the other two games of this grade. All games are at 1.00pm.
Hutt Old Boys Marist and Oriental-Rongotai are the two unbeaten sides after two weekends of the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup, and they clash in the early game at the Hutt Rec. Wellington will be gunning for their third straight win of the HD Morgan competition against Petone.
Unbeaten Avalon host the OBU Bunnies at 1.00pm at Fraser Park and third and fourth placed the Upper Hutt Rams and the Tawa Titans meet at Maidstone at 2.45pm in the U85kg competition.
The HOBM Barbarians will collect the Thompson Memorial Trophy following their final round First Grade fixture with the Stokes Valley Rhinos.
A look at the individual Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup games follow below.
Old Boys University v Marist St Pat’s
Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Richard Gordon
OBU started their defence of the Jubilee Cup with an impressive 40-22 win over Hutt Old Boys Marist on the road. The Goats welcomed back experienced wing Te Wehi Wright who celebrated with two tries. For the next three weeks they will lose Greg Mullany who scored 20 points against the Eagles. He’s on international duty with the Cook Islands.
The forward pack has a very settled appearance with veterans Finnbarr Kerr-Newell and Jonathan Fuimaono firing alongside thriving youngsters Paddy Carter and Cody Quin. Last year’s OBU club Player of the Year Daven Candy returns to the side of the scrum.
MSP have lost five of their last six and were thrashed 32-17 in their previous meeting against OBU. The lineout collapsed in that encounter so the MSP forwards must be aggressive and accurate.
MSP have made tight five and midfield changes for this one, while first five-eighth James Proctor returns from injury to the reserves, joined by returning halfback Jack Taulapapa.
OBU will be defending the Bill Brien Challenge Cup in this contest.
Hutt Old Boys Marist v Oriental-Rongotai
Venue: Hutt Recreation Ground Referee: Nick Hogan
Hutt Old Boys Marist overpowered Ories 47-15 in the Swindale Shield, but the Ories side that contested that Round 3 fixture is vastly different. The Magpies have won six of their last seven games and have maximum points after two rounds of the Jubilee Cup
Wellington Lion Malo Tuitama has scored six tries in his last four games while the Poasa brothers along with Wetu Henry are providing a solid platform up front which allows Ories loose forwards to express themselves with their powerful running games. Right wing Andrew Ellis is playing his 100th Premier match here too.
HOBM were made to pay for a sloppy display against OBU and should be far better this Saturday with few injuries incurred from the student smashing. Lise Soloa returns to the starting lineup after an honest effort from the bench. Albert Polu moves into second five-eighth and Chase Tiatia starts at fullback, while right wing Jerome Hairmate has scored eight tries in 2018.
Poneke v Tawa
Venue: Kilbirnie Park
Referee: Vincent Ringrose
Tawa had the bye last week after an ill-disciplined effort to open the Jubilee Cup saw them tumble to a 15-30 loss to HOBM at home.
Hosts Poneke are desperate. After an opening round 27-41 loss to Ories, Poneke led until the 78th minute on Wednesday before succumbing 23-27 to Swindale Shield winners Norths.
Poneke Captain Greg Foe heads the Best and fairest while last year's joint winner Hemi Fermanis will be keen to atone for his red card against the Eagles. Poneke have made some changes to Wednesday’s loss, with Pakai Turia coming back to first five-eighth key amongst them.
Tawa had won four in a row prior to the first round of the Jubilee Cup. The visitors haven't missed the Jubilee Cup semi-finals since 2014. Tawa will be missing Telea Seumanutafa, Peniasi Tokakece, Kalim Kelemete and Pepesana Patafilo. Kemara Hauiti-Parapara moves out to 10 and James So’oialo to the midfield.
Poneke won the previous meeting in 2018, shortly before coach Mason Lawrence departed, 25-20.
Johnsonville v Paremata-Plimmerton
Venue: Helston Park
Referee: Jamie Fairmaid
Johnsonville enjoyed the bye after their first win of the season against Upper Hutt. Johnsonville’s backs at last caught fire and Waisea Yabakivou scored two tries in the 45-28 bagel breaker.
Paremata-Plimmerton were unlucky to draw against the Axemen after a narrow defeat to Wainuiomata in week one of the Hardham Cup.
Both packs have been a strength this season. Api Naikatini and Kane Thompson bring experience and quality to Johnsonville while James Corcoran leads a Pare-Plim eight that features half a dozen players with 10 or more games this season.
This will be tight, but if Johnsonville keep their discipline and play at pace they could score their second win on the trot.
Avalon Wolves v Wainuiomata
Venue: Fraser Park
Avalon’s much improved season featured a 33-32 win against
The Wolves have dropped their first two in the Hardham Cup though and need a win to stay in touch with the top four.
Wainuiomata had their second draw of the season last week, sharing honours with Upper Hutt. Greg Lealofi scored two tries and his potential clash with the Wolves loosies - that includes Scott Waldrom coming off the bench - will be a highlight. Chris Aumua has shifted back to the left wing, while Lyon Pretorius starts at hooker.
Wellington v Petone
Venue: Hataitai Park Referee: Daniel Mangin
Wellington hasn’t lost in their last four matches and should be far more competitive than their 0-55 loss to Petone in the Swindale Shield.
In addition to a more settled pack the new halves pairing of Gareth Simpson and TeRaina Richards-Coxhead has added some much needed direction and flair to the Axemen’s back division.
Petone snapped their three game losing streak with a win against Avalon last Saturday. Jarrod Adams scored two tries and Piri Paraone was a welcome return. Both start in the outside backs tomorrow. Petone has several players sidelined through injury, includingWellington a sniff. Petone won this corresponding match in the first round 55-0.