The Swindale Shield will be settled this weekend and the line-up for the Jubilee Cup semi-finals confirmed.
Despite given a mighty fright from Johnsonville, Marist St Pats, with a bonus point victory over Wellington, will claim outright spoils. MSP trailed for most of the match last week, and at one stage 19-7, as the ever-improving Hawks nearly caused the biggest boilover in years. A late converted try to fullback Andrew Wells was the difference.
Wellington, who have leaked 435 points this season, should present few hassles for the hosts. However, Wellington beat MSP 13-10 in the Swindale Shield last year and scored four tries in a respectable finish against Ories last week. Halfback Isaac Bracewell secured a double. Was the tightrope Johnsonville victory the ‘wakeup call’ MSP needed or are the Reds pretenders?
Petone has been in the top four almost every week this season, but will have to knock over Northern United in their Murray Henderson Trophy fixture and on their Old Timers' Day to guarantee to stay there. Petone celebrated Jacob Gooch’s 100th game with a 46-22 win over Paremata-Plimmerton, briefly trailing at one point.
Norths have won 10 in a row and scored more tries (77) than any other club. The Norths running game in the forwards simply must be suppressed by the Villagers if they are to prevail. Norths hooker Ethan Robinson-Mate is an unsung hero, while Losi Filipo with 13 tries was unlucky not to be picked for the Lions. Norths depth provides them with an abundance of different and effective combinations.
The depth of Old Boys University should have been sorely tested against Wainuiomata with 10 players away on representative duties. Instead the students thrashed the hosts 47-11, with Sam Reid scoring three tries and Reece Plumtree snatching two intercepts. The lineout play of Sam Godwin was a major factor in the game. Ories have won six games and have a points differential of +85. The Ories forwards are always honest and Steven Va’a and Ethan Webster-Nonu scored two tries each against the Axemen and are a growing threat in the midfield.
It would be a minor miracle if Hutt Old Boys Marist were to make the semi-finals. Firstly, they need a bonus-point victory against the Avalon Wolves, and then a series of other results to go their way. Avalon was competitive in patches against Norths, but was eventually well beaten. HOBM has outscored the Wolves 55 tries to 20 with Avalon conceding 569 points in 12 outings.
Tawa have won three games in a row, but still resides in fifth place. However, their narrow win and superior points differential over Petone could see the Villagers miss out if they lose to Norths and Tawa deal to Paremata-Plimmerton. Despite losing Trent Renata and Kemara Hauiti-Parapara to Lions duty, Tawa should get the job done. Converting only 32 of 60 tries is a concern for Tawa.
Johnsonville hosting the Upper Hutt Rams and Poneke versus Wainuiomata for the Hakaraia Trophy are the only matches that have no bearing on the Jubilee Cup semi-final make-up. The Hawks will back their chances of beating the Rams after an excellent showing against MSP. They led for the best part of an hour and scored four tries with Waisea Yabakivou crossing twice. Johnsonville have lost five games by less than 10 points in 2020. The Rams were hammered 50-7 by Tawa, but have four wins overall. Expect a tight one.
The last three games between Poneke and Wainuiomata have been decided by a converted try or less. Wainuiomata has scored ten more points (268-258), Poneke one more try (39-38).
It’s Old Timers’ Day at Poneke, and both the club’s Premiers and Premier Reserves will be wearing the club socks of Irishman Cormac Ryan who played with the club for a number of years but tragically lost his life earlier this year. He was a huge social figure and a great member of the club.
In the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield, Northern United will look to try claim the first round trophy as they sit top of the table.
Irrespective of their result in tomorrow’s early game at Porirua Park, Norths will host a Ed Chaney Cup semi-final next weekend.
Marist St Pats will also host the other Premier Reserve semi-final.
The other semi-finalists are to be confirmed tomorrow, with Petone just needing a point to ensure they will be part of the picture, and with OBU, Tawa, HOBM, Poneke and Ories (mathematically at least) all still in the frame.
The OBU – Ories match will thus have a ‘quarter-final’ feel to it, while HOBM will be favoured to beat Avalon and Tawa should be too strong for Paremata-Plimmerton who are just above the Wolves with three wins and Poneke should likewise defeat winless Wainuiomata and then wait for other results to go their way.
In other last round Harper Lock Shield games, Johnsonville play Stokes Valley and MSP return to the field after being defaulted to twice in a row to play Petone White.
It is also the last round of the Colts Paris Memorial Trophy competition, with frontrunners Old Boys University Green the already confirmed grade winner and top qualifier for the John E Kelly Memorial Cup semi-finals next weekend.
Below OBU Green, two other semi-finalists are confirmed, but the order of finishing isn’t. Norths Blue and Petone are the other two teams joining OBU at the Division 1 playoff table, with current fourth placed Tawa hoping to seal their spot ahead of fifth placed HOBM and sixth placed Norths White.
Poneke host Norths Blue in town, while Petone have beaten the Upper Hutt Rams by default.
OBU Green hosts Tawa at Ian Galloway Park, in a match could be a precursor to next week’s semi-finals if the latter comes home fourth, while HOBM and Norths White contest the other match at the Hutt Rec. OBU Black and Johnsonville have the bye.
It’s finals day tomorrow for the Under 85kg grade.
The Wellington Axemen and Marist St Pats contest the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield final at Hataitai Park at 12.45pm, while the Upper Hutt Rams and Eastbourne meet at Maidstone Park at 2.45pm in the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield decider.
The Upper Hutt Rams head into the Paul Potiki Shield final having won all eight matches in their recently completed first round JC Bowl first round regular season competition by an average winning scored of 39-10. They then went on to beat the Avalon Wolves 27-15 in last week’s semi-final.
Second placed qualifiers Eastbourne won five and lost three, scoring 225 points and conceding 180. Last Saturday they topped the OBU Scallywags 46-43 in a high scoring semi-final.
In Division 2, the Axemen are coming off a 48-5 semi-final win over Wests and MSP defeated Poneke 34-31.
It’s the penultimate round of the Reserve Grade Mike Copeland Trophy tomorrow, and leaders Oriental Rongotai could win the grade tomorrow with a round to spare.
Ories just need to beat the OBU Teddy Bears at Ian Galloway at 2.45pm to seal the silverware, ahead of the Upper Hutt Rams J8s and the Paremata-Plimmerton Punters, who are both 5+ points adrift.
The J8s beat the OBU Pink Ginners by default and the Punters host competition battlers the OBU Righteous Pack in the main event at Ngatitoa Domain at 2.45pm.
Elsewhere, the fourth placed Poneke Ruffnuts will be favoured to maintain their position against mid-table Wellington Axemen at Hataitai Park at 3.00pm, the fifth placed Wests Mixed Veges and the UHR Pirate play at Ian Galloway Park at 3.00pm, the UHR Thirstys and minnows Stokes Valley play on Maidstone 2 at 2.45pm and the OBU 69ers and MSP Internationals are on Ian Galloway 3 at 2.45pm.