The semi-finalists in both the Premier Jubilee Cup and Premier Reserve Hardham Cup competitions will be decided over the final fortnight of round-robin play after another absorbing day of rugby around the Wellington region on Saturday.
In dry, windy conditions, Northern United returned from their bye to beat first round winners Hutt Old Boys Marist 22-18 in a tightly fought arm-wrestle at the Hutt Recreation Ground.
Neither side could gain the upper hand and it was a turnover from 70 metres out and subseqent raid up field that put Norths hooker Bruce Kauika-Petersen in the clear to score the winning try with less than five minutes to play.
Over at the Petone Recreation Ground, the Oriental-Rongotai Magpies kept themsevles in the hunt for the playoffs beating Petone 44-29 for the Jim Brown Memorial Trophy, while at Lyndhurst Park Tawa raced to a 48-24 win over Poneke.
In the Jubilee Cup, only Poneke are officially out of top four contention, while Petone are still alive but need the cards to fall in their favour to get through.
In the Hardham Cup, Old Boys University defended the Bill Brien Challenge Trophy with an 88-22 win over the Johnsonville Hawks at Nairnville Park, while Marist St Pats beat the previously unbeaten Wellington Axemen 43-5 and the Upper Hutt Rams beat the Avalon Wolves 61-34.
In the 12 Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup matches there were a combined 438 points scored and 65 tries, as part of a high scoring round of rugby throughout all the grades.
In some Jubilee Cup highlights, there was just one try scored in the first half at the Hutt Rec, and that was in the opening few minutes to left wing TK Bishop. Playing with the wind, the Eagles made much of the play but could only reply with two Brandyn Laursen penalties. Kauika-Petersen was sin-binned late in the first half as well.
The second half came alive with a flurry of tit-for-tat scoring, with midfielder Francis Tunavasa and left wing Fereti Soloa crossing the white line for the Eagles and lock Olano Afutoto and right wing Connor Garden-Bachop for Norths. HOBM led 18-17, before Kauika-Petersen's try won the game.
At Lyndhurst Park, Tawa scored the game's first two tries to move ahead of Poneke and staying ahead. Tawa won seven tries to three, with openside flanker Hemi Fermanis scoring a double and five individuals filling the scoresheet.
Ories put Petone on the back foot early with an intercept try to Trent Renata helping them to a 10-0 lead. Centre and captain Willie Fine then scored a first half hat-trick as part of a four-try individual haul, as Petone led 22-10 at halftime.
Now with the wind, Ories scored consecutive tries, to No. 8 William Heather and lock and captain Tuakana Metuarau to go ahead 24-22. Petone moved back in front with a penalty try, before Ories scored again through Heather and and then to replacement wing Steven Va'a who scored a 50 metre runaway to seal the win.
In the Hardham Cup at Nairnville Park, OBU battled a stiff wind to beat the Hawks 14 tries to 4, with fullback Sam Reid and left wing Trevahn Ta'ufo'ou each scoring a hat-trick and flanker Shamus Langton and centre Ty Poe each scoring braces. Johnsonville scored three tries into the wind in the second half.
Marist St Pats beat the Wellington Axemen 43-5 at Evans Bay Park. MSP led the Axemen 19-0 and more than doubled their tally after the break. Left wing Faresa Tasale scored two of their seven tries after scoring four last week.
The Upper Hutt Rams retained the Harper Vine Trophy with a 61-34 win over the Avalon Wolves. Second five-eighth Jayden Treviranus scored two tries, while flyhalf Tyler Tane also scored a try and kicked 8 of 9 conversions. For the Wolves, Replacement fullback Site Timu scored two of their five tries.
In the Women's Tia Paasi Memorial Division 1 competition, Norths beat the OBU Impalas 49-5 and Ories defeated Petone 52-19 in the Women's Tia Paasi Memorial Division 1 competition, while In the Women's Izzy Ford Division 2 matches, Paremata-Plimmerton beat Poneke 44-7 and MSP beat HOBM 48-15.
At Porirua Park, Norths made a fast start against OBU, fullback Julie Tusa slicing through to score two of their first three tries and putting them ahead 15-0. OBU replied with a nice solo try to first five-eighth Montana Heslop to close the gap to 15-5. That was as close as they got, with Norths scoring twice more before halftime and leading 27-5 at the break.
Playing with the wind, the Impalas made much of the play in the second half but staunch defence kept them out. Norths scored four more tries over the final quarter, including two runaway tries at the end to left wing Kolora Lomani who scored a hat-trick.
Hooker Jane Bryce scored 18 points including two tries in her MSP team's win, while halfback Tawny Burgess, left wing Mamele Kupa Cummings and centre Sharn Rohloff each scored braces for Paremata-Plimmerton and prop Laina Semu and centre Amanda Rasch scored two tries apiece for Ories in their win.
In Les Mills Colts John E Kelly Cup Division 1 matches, HOBM made it four wins from four to top the table with a 32-15 win over Paremata-Plimmerton. The visitors put in a spirited performance and the game remained close until the final few minutes when HOBM scored the match-clinching try.
Elsewhere, OBU Green beat Norths Blue 26-17, MSP bounced back from their loss last week to HOBM to beat Tawa 47-7 and Ories came back from their loss last week to Tawa to beat Petone 35-19.
In Colts Division 2, leaders Poneke beat Wellington 41-22, while OBU Black beat Johnsonville 26-24 and Avalon beat the Rams 14-10.
Norths and Petone are the joint leaders of the Ed Chaney Cup Premier Reserve Division 1 competition, with Norths slaying HOBM 98-5 after leading 45-0 at halftime and Petone edging Ories 22-19. The third match saw Tawa beating Poneke 33-22.
In the HD Morgan Premier Reserve Division 2 competition, MSP maintained their unbeaten record with an 83-0 win over the Wellington Axemen second XV, OBU beat Johnsonville 47-0 and the Rams beat Avalon 57-12.
In U85kg Paul Potiki Shield matches, Avalon pipped Paraparamu 19-13 and the Upper Hutt Rams pipped the Johnsonville Terrahawks 10-0.