First round winners Northern United and last year’s champions Old Boys University maintained their unbeaten records at the top of the standings in the Jubilee Cup after a blue sky day of Wellington club rugby on Saturday that produced three thrillers.
Norths and OBU have both won their first three matches, and with their bye rounds behind them, appear to be sailing to the semi-finals at the end of this month.
Both won one-point victories on Saturday. At Jerry Collins Stadium, Norths scored at the end to beat Hutt Old Boys Marist 35-34, while at Nairnville Park, OBU scored a late 18-17 win over Oriental-Rongotai.
The third Jubilee Cup match on Saturday was also decided by a point, with Tawa holding off Marist St Pat’s to win their match 15-14. This result likely knocks MSP out of semi-finals reckoning this season, while Tawa have kept their playoff hopes alive.
The Jubilee Cup points table at a glance after four rounds of seven is: Northern United 15; Old Boys University 14; Oriental-Rongotai 13*; Hutt Old Boys Marist 12*; Poneke 7; Tawa 4; Marist St Pat’s 3*
*Bye rounds still to come.
In the Hardham Cup, Wainuiomata were the day’s big winners with an emphatic 29-15 win over Petone at William Jones Park to move to the top of the table after four rounds.
Johnsonville are right behind them with a game in hand after earning their third win in beating the Avalon Wolves 33-15 at Helston Park. This was Avalon’s fourth defeat and they are certainly out of semi-finals contention now.
In the third match of the Hardham Cup, the Upper Hutt Rams beat the Wellington Axemen 29-22 at Maidstone Park, making it three wins for the home teams.
The Hardham Cup points table at a glance after four rounds of seven is: Wainuiomata 17*; Johnsonville 14; Petone 10; Upper Hutt Rams 9; Wellington 7*; Paremata-Plimmerton 3; Avalon 2*
*Bye rounds still to come.
In the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup, Northern United beat Hutt Old Boys Marist 74-12, while Marist St Pat’s beat Tawa 32-10 and Oriental-Rongotai maintained their unbeaten second round run with a 27-17 win over Old Boys University.
In the HD Morgan Memorial section, the Upper Hutt Rams beat Wellington 27-12, Johnsonville defeated Avalon 57-17 and Petone over-ran Wainuiomata 79-7.
The second round of Women's matches saw comfortable wins for frontrunners Norths and Oriental-Rongotai in the Division 1 Tia Paasi Memorial Cup.
At Porirua Park Norths scored nine tries as they beat an undermanned and injury-ravaged Marist St Pat’s 51-14; teenaged fullback Julie Tusa scored the first three tries and added another while veteran prop Patsy Schwalger grabbed a brace.
However they were eclipsed by their rivals who racked up 12 tries at the Petone Rec as they beat Petone 72-17, with Ayesha Leti-l'iga scoring seven tries.
In the two Division 2 Izzy Ford Cup Tyler Bentley scored a hat-trick to lead HOBM to a 34-20 win over OBU while Avalon got up 29-14 over Poneke.
Norths maintained their lead in the Colts Division 1 John E Kelly Memorial but had to work hard to overcome neighbours Paremata-Plimmerton at Porirua Park after trailing the visitors at half-time, before getting home 34-28.
Elsewhere the Upper Hutt Rams and Petone were also kept winless after losing at home; the Rams dipped out 12-20 against Tawa and the defending champs were humbled 19-50 by cross-river rivals HOBM.
The fourth match between MSP and OBU Green was called off due to foul play.
Jubilee and Hardham Cups
Northern United rallied from 11-34 down early in the second half to score 23 unanswered points and pip HOBM with the last play of the game.
Right wing Junior Time-Taotua scored in the corner to seal victory with time almost up. This followed three consecutive tries that closed the score to 34-18, 34-25 and finally 34-30. No.8 Faifili Levave was prominent in the comeback that also saw tries scored by captain and flanker Parekura Lalaga and big wing Liki Siliga.
Earlier, the Eagles scored two converted tries in the first half to lead 20-6 at halftime. Fullback Chase Tiatia burst away from a ruck in midfield and set up the game’s first try to halfback Sheridan Rangihuna and then flanker Jordan Gillies finished off a sweeping movement that crisscrossed the field.
It took OBU 60 minutes to crack Ories’ defence, but when centre Will Mangos muscled over under the posts to make it 11-10, the Billy Goats gained a lead they never lost. OBU wing Nathan Blundell scored next, following a big charge from Teariki Ben-Nicholas, to make it 18-10.
Ories mounted a dramatic comeback though. Fullback Trent Renata narrowly missed a penalty with three minutes to go and then Paulo Aukuso busted and Alex Ropeti finished to set up the chance of an improbable Ories win.
At Evans Bay Park, Marist St Pat’s fullback Andrew Wells missed an 80th minute penalty to win the game against Tawa.
The game came alive in the second half after scores had been locked up at 0-0 at halftime. Tawa crossed for two tries in the first 15 minutes of the second spell, to wing Elijah Vaa-Brooking and lock Telea Seumanutafa.
MSP then hit back with a try to second five-eighth Isaiah Petelo in the 60th minute to close the score to 7-12, and then a runaway converted try fullback Wells moments later to put MSP ahead 14-12. Tawa slotted a penalty to re-take the lead and the rest of the match remained scoreless as Tawa held on to win.
At William Jones Park, it was also 0-0 well into the first half, before Wainuiomata scored the opening try to No. 8 Greg Lealofi and Petone soon replied to make it 7-5 to the home side.
Wainuiomata’s Matt Jacobs kicked a penalty to extend this lead to 10-5 at halftime, before lock Bevan Clark crossed and Jacobs converted to put Wainuiomata up 17-5. Veteran fullback Uale Mai stole an intercept and set up a try for Hurricanes centre Peter Umaga-Jensen for a 24-5 lead and it was game over. Both sides scored again and the green and blacks took the win 29-15.
At Maidstone Park, the Wellington Axemen scored two tries and kicked a penalty to lead the Upper Hutt Rams 15-7 at halftime.
The Rams went into helter-skelter mode early in the second half and No. 8 Josh Houston-Tupou scored two consecutive tries to put the Rams ahead 19-15. Lock forward Sio Luamanu scored again to make it 26-15 to the Rams. The Axemen scored another try, but the Rams kicked a penalty and they won 29-22.
At Helston Park, home side Johnsonville opened the scoring against the Avalon Wolves through right-wing Waisea Yabakivou after combining up the shortside with fullback Jacob Walmsley.
Johnsonville scored another try to tighthead prop Tietie Tuimauga and Avalon scored their first to right-wing Poata Tuisamoa after a length of the field intercept and the home side led 12-5 at halftime. Johnsonville maintained their lead in the second half and went on to win five tries to three, 33-15.