Semi-finals beckon for top teams in last round matches

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It is a big weekend of club rugby for many teams and players. For some, it is already confirmed as being the final afternoon of the season, while for others this weekend's club rugby will determine the following week’s semi-final match-ups and then on to hopeful Finals Day qualification on 27 July.

It is the last regular season round of the season for eight competitions, these being the Premier Jubilee and Hardham Cup, the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup and HD Morgan Memorial Cup, the Colts John E Kelly Memorial Cup and Vic Calcinai Cup, the Women’s (Division Two) Izzy Ford Cup and the First Grade Johnsonville Centennium Cup.

The WRFU tiebreaker rules can be found here.

Others such as the U85kg Paul Potiki and Women’s (Division 1) Tia Paasi Memorial Cup and Reserve Grade competitions have more weeks to run before silverware Saturday comes around for the leading sides.

In the Jubilee Cup, there are five teams still alive for the semi-finals, while any one of Hutt Old Boys Marist, Oriental-Rongotai and Northern United can finish as top qualifier.

In the Hardham Cup, the four semi-finalists have already been confirmed so what is to be decided tomorrow is which of OBU and MSP will qualify first and who will host Wellington and the Upper Hutt Rams next Saturday.

Tomorrow’s radio games are Northern United v Tawa on 1503am and Radio Sport Extra on iHeart Radio​, and Wainuiomata v Hutt Old Boys Marist on 1161AM or Te Upoko o Te Ika on the TuneIn Radio app

A look at each of the last round Jubilee and Hardham Cup games is below.

In the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup, Norths, Petone and Tawa will fill the first three spots, with Norths and Tawa playing each other in a last round feature match. Likewise, Poneke and Ories are both locked on 12 points in fourth so their clash will be a straight quarter-final.

In the Premier Reserve HD Morgan Memorial, MSP have all but secured top spot, while OBU’s match with the Upper Hutt Rams will determine who hosts the second semi-final. Johnsonville will be seeking a win from their match against Paremata-Plimmerton to secure fourth.

The Division 1 Les Mills Colts is on tenterhooks, with HOBM Green on 25 and having already qualified top, but with three teams in the hunt to host the second semi-final. OBU Green lead the chasing pack on 19, followed by first round Division 2 winners Ories on 17 and Tawa on 15. MSP on 14 and Norths on 11 can still mathematically make the top four.

John E Kelly Cup games this Saturday see games between HOBM and OBU, Norths and Tawa, Paremata-Plimmerton and Ories and Petone and MSP.

In Colts Division 2, Poneke have already confirmed top spot, but their opposition tomorrow Avalon will be gunning to beat them and hold on to second spot. If not, they can be overtaken by either the Upper Hutt Rams or OBU Black who clash at Te Whaea.

In Women’s Division 1, OBU will need to beat Ories to have any chance of hosting a semi-final, while Norths host Petone with a victory keeping them at the top of the table.

In Women’s Division 2, there is one round to play before playoffs, with HOBM playing Wainuiomata, Paremata-Plimmerton hosting MSP in tomorrow’s games. Poneke has the bye.

The fifth and final round of the First Grade Johnsonville Centennium Cup sees leaders Stokes Valley travelling down the road to play Avalon to determine who qualifies top for the semi-finals, while OBU can leapfrog HOBM who have the bye into third place.

It is round four of five in both U85kg competitions, with frontrunners Upper Hutt Rams and Avalon meeting at Maoribank Park at 2.45pm in the feature match of the Paul Potiki Shield Division 1 competition. Third placed HOBM host fourth placed Johnsonville, while Paraparaumu has the bye.

In Division 2 Tony O'Brien Shield matches, unbeaten Wellington can seal top spot for the playoffs if they beat third placed MSP at Kilbirnie Park.

Jubilee and Hardham Cup game previews:

 

Jubilee Cup

Wainuiomata v Hutt Old Boys Marist
Venue:
William Jones Park
Referee: Daniel Mangin

The prospects of a Wainui win against HOBM appear slim though on the evidence of their recent display against Tawa. Wainui looked ponderous in a handsome defeat, but tomorrow they welcome back Thomas and Peter Umaga-Jensen who will start together in the midfield. Marvin Karawana at flanker and Mike Lealava’a on the right wing also return, and they could be a real chance at playing themselves into the playoffs.

The Eagles were held scoreless in the first-half by Petone, but charged home to win 35-0 in the second-half. The Eagles have named a mostly settled team to travel over the hill, with the front row of Joe ‘Apikotoa, Ben Power and Rei Manaia likely key to them finishing the round-robin with a win.

HOBM won the Swindale Shield meeting 37-19 and with a victory, and Tawa defeat, could win the Andy Lesile trophy as top qualifiers in the Jubilee Cup round robin. 

 

Northern United v Tawa

Venue: Jerry Collins Stadium
Referee: Jamie Fairmaid

Tawa became the first qualifiers for the semi-final last week when they trounced Wainuiomata 39-21 at William Jones Park. 

A dominant first-half with a great display by halves Kemara Hauiti-Parapara and Luke Cummings, both try scorers, had Wainui chasing a 22-0 halftime deficit. 

Norths welcomed back Luca Rees against Ories. The big No.8 scored a try in an otherwise disappointing outing for Norths who must win to make the semis.

Norths did beat Tawa 32-25 in the Swindale Shield with Rees scoring two tries, however Tawa looked very settled and have won 7 of their last 8.

 

Oriental-Rongotai v Poneke

Venue: Kilbirnie Park
Referee: Colin Te Pohe

Ories had the services of Ma’a Nonu, Matt Proctor and Alex Fidow at No. 8 in their 39-17 victory over Norths, but of this trio just Fidow returns and he is on the bench. Connor Lemon starts at hooker and coach Poasa Poasa alongside Fidow on the pine.

Poneke have nothing to play for except pride in their confirmed final match of the year, but historically games with Ories are tight with a draw and two seven point spreads in their last three games.

Poneke’s team, as named on Friday, is missing several players such as Nick Roberston, Galu Taufale and Greg Foe, while veteran team manager Evan Belford lines up on the right wing to mark young gun Rueben Va’a. It’s hard to see the Magpies stumbling here, and with a win an eighth semi-final in the past nine years awaits.

 

Hardham Cup

Old Boys University v Upper Hutt Rams

Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Jordan Price

OBU have scored 340 points in their last six games and shape as a tough assignment for the Upper Hutt Rams over the course of the next two weeks potentially. 

The Rams had the bye last weekend, but have shown an ability to score points themselves amassing 146 points in five Hardham Cup.

Upper Hutt centre Scott Svenson will be looking to show his credentials for the Wellington Under-19’s, as part of a backline that also features his brothers Todd and Josh, while Josh Houston-Tupou is a respected opponent and comes at OBU off the back of the scrum tomorrow. 

OBU fullback Sam Reid has scored 10 tries in his last seven games while openside Shamus Hurley-Langton has just been selected in the NZ Maori U20 side so will be looking for a big game.

 

Avalon v Marist St Pats

Venue: Fraser Park
Referee: Steve Newson

MSP took the best part of an hour to foil a surprisingly stubborn Johnsonville. No.8 Pago Haini’s two tries were a telling difference. 

Avalon were similarly committed against OBU, but fell to defeat. Can the Wolves stun MSP as they did last season?

It’s unlikely with an MSP win securing a home semi-final. Lock Laman Ah Wong plays his 50th match for the Wolves.

 

Paremata-Plimmerton v Johnsonville

Venue: Ngatitoa Domain 
Referee: Jack Sargentina

Can Johnsonville end the season with a win? 

Paremata-Plimmerton represents a decent shot. The Hawks lost this encounter by three in the Swindale Shield and were very competitive against MSP.

Paremata-Plimmerton have only had one win this year, but have held Avalon to a draw and almost toppled the Axemen in the past two rounds.

Peni Taupau scored two tries against Wellington while Jacob Walmsley has played every game for Johnsonville this year and has moved from the outside backs to first five-eighth.