Wild weather gripped the capital during the week, but a return to calmer weather tomorrow should help create another exciting day of club rugby around the region.
It is round three of the Premier Men’s Swindale Shield, Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield and Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy, and the second round of the Colts, U85kgs and Reserve competitions.
Only a fortnight has elapsed in the Swindale Shield, but one gets the distinct impression that if Northern United don’t crack the whip and break their duck on Saturday there might be a new Jubilee Cup champion crowned in 2020.
With two heavy losses, Norths have essentially given other top four aspirants a 10-point head start. This weekend Norths return home to host Wellington.
The Axemen were brave against Hutt Old Boys Marist, but their relative lack of size eventually took its toll in a 36-17 defeat.
For Norths, the pack must be more patient, disciplined, and constructive. Leni Apisai returns at hooker in a key change up front. Norths’ depth and size mean they should have the measure of Wellington who is settled and growing. Flanker Sam Gard’ner is back and young lock Ben Strowger-Turnock has been a standout.
Wainuiomata wing Trei Mu scored a miracle try to foil Petone at William Jones Park, but leaving such heroics to the last minute against Marist St Pats might not result in such a favourable outcome in their Rona-Morrissey Cup clash. MSP overpowered Upper Hutt and have won 13 of their last 14 matches.
Watch for the clash between promising young first-fives Rueben Love (Wainuiomata) and Aidan Morgan (MSP). Tutasi Masoe is revelling at Wainuiomata. The former Ories lock scored two cracking tries last weekend.
Tawa have racked up 89 points in two matches and will fancy their chances of over-running Poneke who struggled to an 18-11 win over Johnsonville. However Poneke has won three of the past five matches between the clubs and were 44-10 victors in their last meeting at Kilbirnie Park. Trent Renata is making a big impression at Tawa at the back while Psalms Lutu scored two tries to foil the Hawks. Poneke and Tawa also play for the new Kevin Carmichael Trophy tomorrow.
Johnsonville will take great heart from their last start, they actually led at halftime too. However, a trip to the Eagles is a daunting one. Johnsonville has a hearty and competitive pack and the experienced Ivan Vaisagote and Paula Kinikinilau have brought greater direction to the backline. However, HOBM has multiple threats and should be too strong. Look out for the Rayasi brothers, Salesi and Fritz, who cause trouble out wide.
The Morgan Family Cup is at stake in the match between Avalon and Petone. The Wolves were underwhelming against Tawa while Petone will have to overcome their hurt from the William Jones Park shock. Tom Carter is growing in stature in the midfield for Petone and Dylan Williamson grinds away better than most. The Wolves have received a big boost with the naming of Asafo Aumua at hooker, while Wolves prop Patrick Roil will pack down against his cousin Marcus Roil.
Paremata-Plimmerton really stretched OBU in their last clash at Ngati Toa. It was only some rampant runs from Will Mangos that ensured the students prevailed. In 2019 it was a different story with OBU posting a century.
The Upper Hutt Rams conceded the largest score of the season so far to MSP and will have their work cut out containing Ories slick, young backs. Roderick Solo (Ories) and Scott Svenson (Upper Hutt) are two of the better rookie backs in the Swindale Shield. This fixture is for the Bob Lendrum Cup.
All Matches kick-off at 2:45 pm.
Avalon v Petone - Fraser Park
HOBM v Johnsonville - Hutt Rec
Marist St Pats v Wainuiomata - Evans Bay Park
Norths v Wellington - Jerry Collins Stadium
Poneke v Tawa - Kilbirnie Park
Upper Hutt Rams v Ories - Maidstone Park
Paremata-Plimmerton v Old Boys University - Ngatitoa Domain
Northern United and Tawa are the two teams unbeaten and on maximum competition points after the first two rounds of the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield Competition.
Tawa will play unbeaten side Poneke in the Kilbirnie Park curtain-raiser.
Ories are the fifth side to have won both matches so far and they travel to Delanay Park to play Stokes Valley who are searching for their first win. Kick-off in this match is 2.45pm.
Defending champions Marist St Pats could be too strong for Wainuiomata at Evans Bay Park Avalon are at home for the first time, against Petone, and the HOBM-Johnsonville and Paremata-Plimmerton-OBU matches also mirror their Premier teams games that follow.
Northern United return from their bye in the Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy to play Paremata-Plimmerton up at Ngati Toa in the battle of the Porirua Basin. Norths won their first game, while Pare-Plim had an opening round win but are coming off a 24-48 loss to Marist St Pats.
MSP will hope to carry on that form from last week against Hutt Old Boys Marist at the Hutt Rec, with the home side winless after the first two weeks.
The Petone-Avalon match pits two sides who won last week, with Petone opening their 2020 account with a 55-17 win over Poneke and Avalon holding on to beat OBU 31-28. This could be a tight forwards battle with both sides likely to play the direct route. In the backs, Manawatu Cyclones midfielder Lauren Balsillie and Petone halfback Milly Mackey are two players for the opposition to contain.
Poneke have defaulted to defending champions Oriental-Rongotai in the fourth scheduled match, leaving Fa’asua Makisi another fortnight (bye next week) to bring up her 100th match for Ories.
The OBU Impalas have the third round bye.
In the Colts Paris Memorial Trophy, defending champions OBU Green were held to a 26-26 draw by Norths Blue in their opener. This week OBU Green plays the second Norths team at Jerry Collins Stasi.
OBU’s second team had an opening round win over Tawa in round one and this week they play Petone whose big win over Wainuiomata last week is null and void with the latter side pulling out of the grade during the week.
HOBM’s big win last weekend over Wellington stands, and tomorrow they host Johnsonville at home at the Hutt Rec.
Poneke beat Johnsonville with a bonus point in their season opener and they return home to host Tawa.
The Upper Hutt Rams Colts have the bye.
All five Colts matches kick-off at 1.00pm.
Defending champions the Avalon Wolves have the bye in the second round of the U85kg JC Bowl.
Three of the four U85kg games tomorrow are in town. Poneke host the OBU Scallywags at Kilbirnie Park, the Wests Roosters host the HOBM Howlers at Ian Galloway Park and Wellington and Eastbourne meet at Hataitai Park. The fourth game sees MSP head to Maoribank Park to play the Upper Hutt Rams.
All games kick-off at 2.45pm.