The 16 finalists for next Saturday’s Wellington club rugby finals were found on Saturday, after a thrilling mix of semi-final matches in all four grades, that produced some tight results, a couple of blowouts and a match that was decided in extra time.
The eight finals match-ups at the Petone Recreation Ground next Saturday are:
* Premier Jubilee Cup: Old Boys University v Northern United
* Premier Hardham Cup: Wainuiomata v Petone
* Women’s Division 1 Tia Passi Memorial: Oriental-Rongotai v Northern United
* Women’s Division 2 Izzy Ford Cup: Hutt Old Boys Marist v Old Boys University
* Colts Division 1 John E Kelly Cup: Old Boys University v Hutt Old Boys Marist
* Colts Division 2 Vic Calcanai Cup: Oriental-Rongotai v Poneke
* Premier Reserve Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup: Oriental-Rongotai v Marist St Pat’s
* Premier Reserve Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial: Petone v Johnsonville
Defending champions Old Boys University will play first round Swindale Shield winners Northern United in the Jubilee Cup final and Petone will play Wainuiomata in the Hardham Cup, after a thrilling set of Premier grade semi-finals on Saturday.
In the Jubilee Cup, top qualifier Norths defeated Hutt Old Boys Marist 41-26 at Jerry Collins Stadium, while Old Boys University defeated Oriental-Rongotai 34-19.
In the Hardham Cup, Wainuiomata defeated Johnsonville, while Petone and the Upper Hutt Rams were all square at 24-24 at fulltime. The match went to extra time of 10 minutes each way and Petone kicked clear to win 32-24.
In the Women’s Division 1 Tia Paasi Memorial Cup semi-finals, Norths beat the Petone Ponies 48-5 and Ories overcame Paremata-Plimmerton 106-0.
The two Division 1 Colts semi-finals were contrasting affairs. OBU and HOBM will contest the John E Kelly Memorial Cup, after OBU accounted for top qualifier Norths 48-17 and HOBM edged Marist St Pat’s 22-20 with a winning penalty on fulltime.
In the Colts Division 2 Vic Calcinai Memorial Cup semi-finals, Ories defeated OBU Black 35-28 and Poneke beat Wainuiomata 43-18.
In the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup, Ories battled to a 13-6 win over Poneke in one semi-final, while MSP beat Norths in the other. The Premier Reserve Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial semi-finals saw top qualifier Petone beat Wainuiomata 42-17 and Johnsonville defeat the upper Hutt Rams 24-7.
A fast start in each-half coupled with a superior set-piece was the telling difference in the 1 v 4 battle between Norths and HOBM at Jerry Collins Stadium.
Norths wing Junior Time-Taotua stole an intercept in the first minute and sprinted clear to score. The game was then delayed for several minutes at the next kick-off when HOBM wing Albert Polu was carried off the field after a head clash. Norths momentum wasn't halted though and a rolling maul produced a second try.
HOBM regrouped and hit back. Wing Fereti Soloa crossed the chalk from an overlap and then set up a try for first five-eighth Walters. Prop Rei Manaia also scored as the visitors appeared to have the momentum.
Time-Taotua chased down a kick a kick to score next, ahead of lock Chris Middleton scoring again from broken play. The Norths forwards got on top and openside Du’Plessis Kirifi scored for them again and it was game over. Samoa 7s rep Tomasi Alosio added plenty of spark for HOBM and set up the last try of the match for wing Jerome Harimate.
OBU were too clinical for Ories in the 2 v 3 semi-final at the Neutral Hutt Recreation Ground.
OBU’s consistent swarming defence, their strong pack and their continuity between backs and forwards on attack all contributed to an emphatic Goats performance. OBU led 19-7 at halftime and then 34-7 after 65 minutes, two runaway consolation tries to Ories closing the score at the end.
Ories were also hit by injury during the game, losing both props, Whetu Henry (first half) and Xavier Numia (second) to injury and the scrums going uncontested for the final 30 minutes.
In the Hardham Cup, Wainuiomata’s win over Johnsonville was hard fought but was over at the end of the regulation 80 minutes.
Johnsonville opened the try scoring to flyhalf Varani Komaisavai, who crossed the line soon after but was called back for a prior incident.
Wainuiomata scored a key try out wide on halftime to take a 11-7 lead into the break before pulling clear, which included a try to flanker Greg Lealofi, to take a 24-7 lead. Johnsonville scored through prop Tietie Tuimauga but TJ Va’a extended the lead for Wainuiomata with another penalty. Johnsonville flanker Joel Knight scored a consolation try at the end.
Over at the Petone Rec, visitors the Rams fought back from 5-24 down to score their final try with two minutes remaining and convert to make it 24-24 after 80 minutes.
Petone kicked an extra time penalty to make it 27-24 and then scored their winning try early in the second half of extra time to clinch victory.
Earlier, Petone had taken a 17-5 lead into halftime with the wind in their favour, which could have been more at the break if not for a missed try with a three-man overlap.
Petone did go ahead to 24-5 soon after the interval, courtesy of a slap down by Rams back Tyler Tane and a penalty try. Industrious prop Neva Apineru barged over to close the score to 24-10, prop Devon Healy-McDonald scored to make it 24-17 and then with a couple of minutes to play Tane scored and converted his own try to send the playoff into extra time.
The Colts Division 1 match at the Hutt Rec between HOBM and MSP was another semi-final thriller.
Playing into the wind, HOBM crossed for three first half tries to lead 19-0 late in the first half. MSP kicked a penalty with the final act of the first half and went into the break trailing 3-19.
HOBM dominated possession and territory for the first 20 minutes of the second half but failed to add to the score. Their right wing was sinbinned, giving MSP an opening. In the 70th minute MSP finally scored to close the gap to 8-19.
From the next kick-off MSP stormed up field and cut through to score a converted try to close the score to 15-19. With their tails up, MSP won a penalty and drove from a lineout, soon coming up with the score that put them in the lead at 20-19.
With three minutes to play, HOBM got back on to attack and won a penalty. But this was missed. HOBM reclaimed the 22 dropout and surged back on to attack once more. This time they won a penalty right under the posts and their right wing slotted the winning kick.
OBU were in control of the other Colts Division 1 semi-final throughout, scoring three quick tries on the back of a dominant set-piece and sailing to victory from there.
The two Division 1 Women’s semi-finals were one-sided.
At Porirua Park, Norths cantered to a 48-5 semi-final win over Petone. Wings Dhys Faleafaga (3) and Eden Gibson (2) scored five of eight tries. At the Polo Ground, the Ories Women galloped to a 106-0 win over Paremata-Plimmerton. Wings Ayesha Leti-l’iga and Bernadette Robertson scored five tries each in the 16 tries to nil win.
OBU and HOBM were already confirmed to meet in next week's Women's Division 2 final. In their final regular season games, OBU beat Avalon 34-12 and HOBM overcame Poneke 65-12.