Northern United won the Swindale Shield title in style on Saturday, overwhelming Marist St Pat’s 64-36 on their old Timers’ Day and holding aloft their seventh first round title since their first in 2003 but their first since last winning it in 2011.
Needing a bonus point win to win the title regardless of what happened in other games, Norths raced to a four-try, 26-0 lead by midway through the first half and led 45-0 by halftime and the first round title was as good as theirs. MSP came back in the second half, but Norths stretched their lead and won well.
Roles were reversed in the Premier Reserve decider, with MSP beating Northern United 46-29 to complete an unbeaten first round campaign and win the Harper Lock Shield.
Norths finished the first round Swindale Shield on top on 55 competition points, ahead of Old Boys University and Hutt Old Boys Marist, both on 54, Tawa on 47, Poneke on 44, MSP on 41 and Oriental-Rongotai and Petone on 37.
Ories finished seventh ahead of Petone, owing to their earlier round-robin win against them, to claim the seventh spot for the second round Jubilee Cup competition that starts this coming weekend.
Petone heads a Hardham Cup field that includes the Upper Hutt Rams who finished on 30 points, Wainuiomata 27, Wellington 22, Avalon 22, Paremata-Plimmerton 17 and Johnsonville 2.
Whilst Norths were celebrating, it was heartbreak for Petone’s players and supporters who just needed a bonus point to qualify for the Jubilee Cup.
Petone had scored the game’s first try and were later trailing Old Boys University 5-12 throughout much of the second half, but a penalty try to OBU pushed the home team’s margin of victory out to beyond 7 points.
At the same time at Helston Park, Ories scored their all-important fourth bonus point just after halftime and went on to beat Johnsonville 43-3. No. 8 Luca Rees would cross for four tries to end the first round on 17 tries. In beating Johnsonville, Ories retained the Ash Pointon Memorial Cup.
Tawa beat Paremata-Plimmerton 62-14 at Lyndhurst Park, with two of the Preston brothers scoring five tries between them. Halfback Adam scored one try and centre Ryan four. Tawa scored their fourth bonus point try on the stroke of halftime and would pull clear in a lively second half.
Poneke beat the Avalon Wolves 57-17, after tight and willing opening period of play that saw Avalon post the game’s first points with a penalty and Poneke leading just 7-3 approaching the turnaround.
Poneke then scored two quick tries, to first five-eighth Charlie Russell-Vick and fullback Nick Robertson. They pulled away from the Wolves in the second half. Russell-Vick, centre Kurt Sickler and left wing Tyson Fukatsu were all to score two tries in the nine-try win.
HOBM Fullback Chase Tiatia produced a star turn at the Hutt Recreation Ground. Following a similar pattern to the matches at Lyndhurst and Fraser Parks, the run of play was tight early and the Eagles held sway 7-3 later in the first half. Tiatia then scored a 70 metre solo try and left wing Albert Polu scored soon after to make it 21-3 at halftime. The Eagles scored their fourth try immediately after the break – to secure the bonus point win they needed – and from there the floodgates opened at both ends and HOBM won 54-22.
On Thursday night, the Wellington Axemen beat the Upper Hutt Rams 49-47 in a thriller, fullback Matt Day scoring the match-winning try and first five-eighth Te Raina Richards-Coxhead kicking a wide angled conversion at the end.
The Axemen had been leading 42-40 just a few minutes earlier, but the Rams had reclaimed the lead with a try to hooker Eli Hunt making it 47-42. A high-octane match yielded a total of 14 tries and five lead changes. Rams second five-eighth Tyler Tane scored a first half hat-trick.
Meanwhile, the Marist St Pat’s Premier Reserve side was celebrating a hard-fought 46-29 win over Northern United in their last round virtual final for the Harper Lock Shield. In a tit-for-tat Premier Reserve decider, MSP came back from a 17-21 halftime deficit to lay on a bevy of points scoring and take a 31-21 lead into the final 50 minutes of the match.
In the Harper Lock Shield, MSP won the first round by winning all 13 matches and scoring over 700 points.
Norths finished second, ahead of third placed Poneke and fourth placed OBU. Poneke beat Avalon 48-13 today and OBU edged Petone 24-17, who were fifth. Tawa were sixth after beating Paremata-Plimmerton 50-5 and Johnsonville seventh after defeating Ories 36-32. Elsewhere, Wainuiomata beat HOBM 34-17 and the Axemen and Rams second XVs drew 32-32.
In the early game at Jerry Collins Stadium, the Northern United women beat Paremata-Plimmerton 55-0 to win the first round Rebecca Liua’ana Women's Trophy with a week to spare. Norths retained the Challenge Cup in this match. Eight different try scorers scored nine tries for Norths.
Oriental-Rongotai beat OBU 79-7 in their game, while first five-eighth Siteri Tabua scored a hat-trick in HOBM's 46-22 win over Poneke. On Wednesday night, Petone beat MSP 74-17, with centre Terina Higgins scoring a hat-trick.
In the U85kg grade, the Avalon Wolves didn’t leave their den in collecting maximum points in their default win over the HOBM Howlers to maintain their Paul Potiki Shield lead, the Paraparaumu side maintained second with their 26-10 win over Johnsonville, Tawa beat Wellington 56-0, MSP Red beat the Wests Roosters 24-19 and the OBU Bunnies edged Eastbourne 10-8 in a thriller.