The gap between the frontrunners and the bottom half of the field is starting to grow in the Swindale Shield as the competition concluded its fifth round on Saturday.
Mostly fine conditions were welcomed after wind and rain over the past fortnight and there was plenty of positive rugby as a result throughout both the Swindale Shield all the other grades that are now underway.
The feature match of the fifth round was the McBain Shield encounter at the Petone Recreation Ground between the home club and Hutt Old Boys Marist, which also doubled as a top of the table clash.
True to the traditions of this interclub trophy that has been played annually since 1934, the HOBM Eagles won 30-27, scoring a try to fullback Anthony Utanga with the final play of the game.
HOBM had taken a 10-point lead early in the second half, but Petone had come back with a 17-point burst of scoring to take the lead. However, with a Petone player in the sin-bin, the Eagles closed pressed again and set up a grandstand finish.
There were three other Swindale Shield matches with trophies at stake. Poneke beat Wellington 53-13 for the Spud Lindsay Memorial Shield at Hataitai Park, Old Boys University defended the Bill Brien Challenge Cup to beat Oriental-Rongotai 48-12 at Nairnville Park and Northern United defeated Wainuiomata 28-23 for the Alf Keating Memorial Trophy at William Jones Park.
Marist St Pat’s beat Johnsonville 31-20 at Helston Park, Tawa beat Avalon 33-10 at Lyndhurst Park and the Upper Hutt Rams grabbed their first win of the season in beating Paremata-Plimmerton 29-17 at Ngatitoa Domain.
After five rounds of 13 of the Swindale Shield, the HOBM Eagles are out in front on maximum points, with OBU and MSP in joint second on 21, Poneke on 19, Petone on 18, Tawa on 16 and Norths on 15 and rounding out the top 7. Wainuiomata lead the chasing pack on 12, while at the bottom just Johnsonville are winless so far.
The next three rounds are eight days apart, with round 6 on Saturday 21 April, round 7 on Wednesday 25 April (Anzac Day) and round 8 on Saturday 28 April.
Norths and MSP remain unbeaten after five rounds of the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield after Norths beat Wainuiomata 68-19 in the early game at William Jones Park and MSP dispatched Johnsonville 81-3 away at Helston Park.
In more high scoring, Tawa beat Avalon 81-12 Petone defeated Hutt OId Boys Marist 53-5, and Poneke, topple the Wellington Axemen’s second XV 60-12, the Upper Hutt Rams beat Paremata-Plimmerton 44-24 and Old Boys University beat Ories 31-17 in the early fixture at Nairnville Park.
The opening round Women’s Gala Day set of matches saw bonus point wins for all four winners at Ngatitoa Domain.
Marist St Pat’s produced a flurry of early scoring on their way to beating last year’s runners-up Old Boys University 38-17, with Wellington Pride midfielder Monica Tagoai scoring two first half tries.
Loosehead prop Dora Laupola was the Player of the Day and second five-eighth Helen Collins scored a brace for Northern United in their 27-17 win over Petone. Paremata-Plimmerton led HOBM 15-0 at halftime and pulled clear to win 35-10, while Avalon put in a strong first half in beating Poneke 29-10. Defending champions Ories had the first round bye.
The opening round of Les Mills Paris Memorial U21s also saw four bonus point wins to the winners.
Perennial contenders Old Boys University led Tawa 29-0 at halftime and then won 57-0 at Redwood Park. Defending champions Petone were fast out of the gates in beatng HOBM 48-10, the Upper Hutt Rams beat Ories 33-19 and MSP beat Norths Blue 39-24.
In Colts Division 2, Poneke beat Wellington 33-21 for the Misiluni Memorial Shield on Friday night and defending Division 2 champions the Paremata-Plimmerton Colts beat OBU’s second fifteen 80-0, Johnsonville beat Avalon 64-3, and OBU Black defeated Wainuiomata 27-12.
In three U85kg week two knockout results, Eastbourne beat the HOBM Howlers 38-7, the Upper Hutt Rams toppled Wainuiomata 78-0 and the OBU Bunnies beat the Wests Roosters 41-15.
There were two close matches of note in the second round of the Thompson Memorial Trophy First Grade competition, where Marist St Pat’s beat Petone 32-29 and the HOBM Barbarians defeated the Avalon Wolves 34-24.