Most of Wellington’s representative teams are in action on Saturday in a busy day of rugby.
Following the Wellington Lions’ thrilling 29-22 win over Counties Manukau on Thursday night, the Wellington Pride start their 2019 Women’s NPC Farah Palmer Cup campaign in Christchurch against Canterbury.
The Pride won the Championship division last year and start their season against two-time defending Premier champions Canterbury. The match at Orangetheory Stadium is live on Sky Sport at 12.05pm.
As well as hunting valuable early competition points, the Pride will be challenging for the JJ Stewart Challenge Trophy.
The Pride were the only team to beat Canterbury last year, winning 43-38 in a high-octane clash at Jerry Collins Stadium.
Petone No.8 Jackie Patea-Fereti returns to captain the Pride, that features two other recent Black Ferns in Oriental-Rongotai players Jonah Ngan-Woo at lock and Ayesah Leti-I’iga on the left wing. The latter scored two tries for the Pride in their win over Canterbury last year and goes into this season with a record of 29 tries in 26 matches.
There will be five players making their Women’s NPC debuts, with Norths left wing Kolora Lomani and Old Boys University fullback Thamsyn Newton in the starting XV and MSP’s Japanese flanker Maki Takano, Norths lock/flanker Te Amohaere Ngata-Aerengamate and Ories prop/lock Barbra Taumoli on the bench.
This will be their 23rd meeting in Women’s NPC matches since 1999, with Canterbury ahead 12-10 in the head-to-head standings so far.
The Pride play six matches in the next seven weeks (bye in week six). Following this weekend’s opener against Canterbury, they play Bay of Plenty at home at Jerry Collins Stadium, Counties Manukau at Westpac Stadium, Auckland at Eden Park, Waikato at Westpac Stadium and Manawatu in Pamerston North. Their two matches at Westpac Stadium are double headers with the Wellington Lions.
At home, there is a double header of matches at Jerry Collins Stadium. The Wellington U19s play the Hawke’s Bay U19s at 12.00pm in their third and final Hurricanes region qualification match for the National U19 tournament in Taupo starting next weekend. If they beat Hawkes Bay tomorrow, they will then become Central Regions Shield Winner and finish top seed for the Hurricanes region at the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament starting 7-14th September in Taupo. This secures them a spot in the top 8.
The Wellington U19s have had wins over their Manawatu counterparts and the Hurricanes Heartland U20s so far, while the Junior Magpies beat the Hurricanes Heartland team before losing 5-15 to Manawatu last weekend.
The Wellington Development team takes the field at Porirua Park at 1.30pm to play the Hawke’s Bay Saracens (Development) side.
At the Hutt Recreation Ground, the Centurions Development team and the Wellington Maori meet at 1.00pm, while the Wellington Samoans play the Manawatu Samoans in Palmerston North at 1.00pm.
In U18s matches, the Centurions U18s meet the Wairarapa Bush U18s at Masterton at 1.00pm and the Wellington Samoans U18s play Horowhenua Kapiti at Paraparaumu Domain in the first round of the HYRC Trustbank Secondary Schools Shield and the Centurions U18s Women play the Wellington Samoans U18s women at Porirua Park at 1.30pm.
The last of this season’s club rugby finals is at Maoribank Park, with the Upper Hutt Rams J8s hosting the Paremata-Plimmerton Punters in the final of the Reserve Grade Alan Seerup Cup. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
There are also three Wellington college teams playing tomorrow in Palmerston North in Hurricanes schools finals. Aotea College face Feilding High School in the Co-ed Cup final and St Mary’s College plays Manukura in the girls Rex Kerr Cup final. The winners of these two games progress to next weekend’s ‘Top 4’ tournament at Massey University. In a third match, Hutt International Boys’ School and Lindisfarne College meet for the inaugural Hurricanes Development Cup.