There is much on the line for many of the the teams in tomorrow’s 12th and penultimate round of the Swindale Shield, with a top-of-the-table clash between Northern United and Old Boys University and several other clashes heading into the last round that could decide the make-up of the top 7 for the Jubilee Cup.
It is also Old Timers’ Day at Fraser Park and HW Shortt, where Avalon and Eastbourne respectively will be celebrating their past successes and current glories. All former and current players and supporters are welcome.
A look at all the matches tomorrow is below.
Avalon v Paremata-Plimmerton
Venue: Fraser Park
Referee: Colin Te Pohe
The biggest improvers in 2018 could provide a prelude to a top four Hardham Cup battle. The last month has been historic for Paremata-Plimmerton winning two matches (including a maiden road victory) and holding leaders OBU to 31-20 last Saturday.
Hurricanes halfback Richard Judd made a huge difference but his stint could be over. James Corcoran is growing in stature as a skipper and Blake Neve is finding his feet after injury.
Avalon shocked MSP at Evans Bay Park a fortnightago and last week extended HOBM. Prop Daly Ena scored two tries against the Eagles and wing Chris Aumua is a quality finisher.
Expect a tight tussle between two tough and settled packs.
HOBM v Johnsonville
Venue: Hutt Rec
Referee: Jordan Price
HOBM are third, a mere four points behind leaders OBU. The Eagles should jump to at least second place after this round with the top two sides clashing and Johnsonville yet to register a point this season.
HOBM unleashed Albert Polu for his Eagles debut last Saturday. The scorer of 27 tries in 18 games for St Pat’s Silverstream is back after a brief stint in Tasman and crossed the chalk twice. He lines up tomorrow in the midfield with the returning Chase Tiatia.
HOBM have overcome the worst of their injury crisis in the forwards.
Johnsonville let a 17-0 lead slip against Upper Hutt. Romu Senileba scored two tries in a more encouraging, but ultimately fruitless effort.
Marist St Pat’s v Ories
Venue: Evans Bay Park
Referee: Hugh Reed
MSP confirmed their place in the Jubilee Cup round rallying from 12-22 down to foil Poneke 42-28 last Saturday. James Procter scored two tries.
Tom Horan is having a top season and halfback Ken Kapeli has appeared in all 11 matches after spending two years on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Ories are 5-6 and have to win their last two matches and rely on favourable results in other games to crack the top seven. Ories will play with plenty of heart, but lack the flair and depth of the past.
Ories No.8 Luca Ress is the top try scorer in 2018 with 11 tries, including two against Norths seven days ago.
OBU v Norths
Venue: Jerry Collins Stadium
Referee: Richard Gordon
The Ken Douglas Trophy is not the only silverware on the line in this fixture, but the final destination of the Swindale Shield could be determined too. An OBU win will leave the students only requiring a draw or bonus points the following weekend. A Norths win would propel them into the lead and bring HOBM back into the equation (assuming the Eagles beat Johnsonville).
Norths are the form team at present. They have celebrated seven wins on the trot and managed 58 tries in 11 games. Perry Hayman (last week) and Parekura Lalaga (this week) have reached 100 games. Hurricanes pivot Jackson Garden-Bachop is likely to play and Du’Plessis Kirifi might be the best turnover merchant in Wellington senior rugby.
OBU have been down a lot of cattle recently, but should at least welcome back Sam Coventry and Maile Koloto. Will Mangos has been imposing of late and Matt Franklin has been a find in the front row.
OBU won’t surrender their riches easily, but at home with a growing confidence Norths have a good shot here.
Petone v Poneke
Venue: Kilbirnie Park
Referee: Nick Hogan
Both teams need one more win to confirm their place in the top seven.
Petone have scored 62 tries in 11 games and really hammered poor opposition, struggling against clubs ahead of them. On paper, the Villagers are very accomplished but need a win against a top side to prove their Jubilee Cup credentials.
Petone No.8 Tupou Sopoaga has scored seven tries in the last two games and his tussle with inspirational Poneke captain Greg Foe will be compulsive viewing. In fact, the loose forward trios in this game are arguably the finest in Wellington.
Petone could enjoy an edge in the set-piece, but don’t have an authoritative ten.
The F.J Tilyard Memorial Shield is one of the oldest interclub trophies in the capital.
Tawa v Upper Hutt Rams
Venue: Lyndhurst Park
Referee: Mike Pinfold
With two bonus point victories, Upper Hutt can still make the Jubilee Cup, but it’s unlikely, leaking over 35 points a game on average and facing a Tawa side who beat OBU and won 43-22 at William Jones Park last Saturday.
Daniel Schrijvers scored two tries against Johnsonville and also have Blues player Murphy Taramai at No. 8 tomorrow, while Tawa have welcomed back the likes of Peniasi Tokakece, James Coburn and Matthew Treeby back in recent rounds.
Wainuiomata v Wellington
Venue: William Jones Park
Referee: Greg Binning
Both clubs are out of the running for the Jubilee Cup but should produce an entertaining affair having scored 65 tries between them.
Te Raina Richards-Coxhead won a National Top Four title at Hamilton Boys’ High School and is a new and much needed inside back for the Axemen.
Wainuiomata’s Michael Lealava’a celebrated his 100th game against Tawa and Andrew Mamea is back in the front row.
Women’s and lower grades
Northern United will take significant steps to wrapping up the first round Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy competition with a bonus point victory as the formbook expects over the Avalon She-Wolves.
Norths and Avalon meet at Fraser Park, where Norths would secure their sixth straight bonus point win, against Avalon who have one win and defaulted their last game.
Oriental-Rongotai host Marist St Pat’s at the Polo Ground in a key eastern suburbs clash, with Ories set to leapfrog Paremata-Plimmerton into second should they win. This game features two new Black Ferns contracted players, Jonah Ngan-Woo at No.8 for Ories and Marcelle Parkes at centre for MSP.
The Old Boys University Impalas play host to Hutt Old Boys Marist and Petone and Poneke meet at the Petone Rec in the day’s other two Women’s games.
Marist St Pat’s will want to make it seven straight wins in the Les Mills Colts Paris Memorial Trophy competition when they play the Hutt Old Boys Marist side at home on Saturday.
The round kicks of tonight at Ascot Park where joint second placed Northern United and Old Boys University meet.
The other two Division 1 contests see Tawa hosting the Upper Hutt Rams and Petone hosting Ories. In Division 2, unbeaten Paremata-Plimmerton will be favoured to beat the Avalon Wolves on their Old Timers’ Day and make it seven straight in the JRD Cup.
Marist St Pat’s could wrap up the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield tomorrow should they beat mid-table Oriental-Rongotai and third place Old Boys University defeat second placed Northern United in the 12th round feature match.
However, should MSP and Norths both win, a virtual decider lies in wait for both teams when they meet next weekend.
The Avalon Wolves can keep their unbeaten record intact with victory over the Wests Roosters in the U85kg Restricted JC Bowl who have won two from four. The Upper Hutt Rams are joint leaders with Avalon but they have a game in hand. The Rams play Johnsonville, who have also won two games from their first four.