UPDATE 4: The rugby focus is on Taupo this week for the third annual Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament.
Sixteen teams from around New Zealand will compete for the Michael Jones Trophy (Championship) and the Graham Mourie Cup (Premiership) – both to be presented on Finals day next week.
Top 8 Graham Mourie Cup
Canterbury 57 - Manawatu 10; Waikato 41 - Auckland B 0; Wellingto 37 v Otago 14; Auckland A 36 - Taranaki 11
Semi-finals Sunday: Auckland v Wellington and Canterbury v Waikato
Bottom 8 Michael Jones Trophy
Counties Manukau 45 - Northland 17; Hawke’s Bay 43 - Southland 17, Bay of Plenty 39 - North Harbour 31, Tasman 20 - Heartland XV 17
Premiership: Auckland v Taranaki
Auckland 36 (JP Sauni, TJ Vaega 2, Freedom Vaha’akolo, Adrian Choat tries; Oliver Polson 4 con, pen) beat Taranaki 11 (Liam Blyde try; Matty McKenzie 2 pen). HT: 19-11
Auckland are into the semi-finals after eliminating Taranaki 36-11 in their quarterfinal in the last contest of the opening day.
Auckland scored five tries to one, scoring three tries in the first half and finding the whitewash twice in the second.
Auckland scored tries through hooker John Sauni, TJ Vaega, sizzling through a hole in the heart of Taranaki’s defence, and left wing Freedom Vaha’akolo who went over in the corner after the TMO was consulted.
Taranaki scored a try just before halftime through halfback Liam Blyde from a rolling maul, after first five-eighth Matty McKenzie had earlier kicked two penalties goals. Auckland led 19-11 at halftime.
Auckland flyhalf Olivier Polson extended his side’s lead to 22-11 with a penalty, before Taranaki bludgeoned away at the Auckland line for several minutes. Auckland’s defence held and they scored a try to replacement Adrian Choat.
TJ Vaega collected a kick on the wing, regathered and scored the last try.
Taranaki’s effort was honest all day but Auckland’s defence held them out to the end.
For Taranaki, openside Cole Blyde played well, while Auckland prop Jerry Samania had a busy game.
Premiership: Wellington v Otago
Wellington 37 (Isaia Walker-Leawere 2, Lester Maulolo, Levi Harmon, Asafo Aumua tries; Sam Fox 3 con, 2 pen) beat Otago 14 (Adam Simpson try; Connor McLeod 3 pen). HT: 13-9.
Inaugural champions Wellington have made the semi-finals of this tournament for the second time after defeating Otago 37-14 in their quarter-final.
Wellington made a shaky start with repeat errors and poor discipline resulting in Otago skipping out to a 9-3 lead. Connor McLeod’s radar was working, the halfback slotting 35 metre and 45 metre penalties.
Wellington were guilty of making too many basic mistakes throughout much of the first half, while missed opportunities could have proved costly. In the 24th minute left wing Losi Filipo received a forward pass whilst in the clear. In the 26th minute flanker John Tuia made a lively broken field break and unloaded to hooker Asafo Aumua who carried it on but the ball was lost.
In the 27th minute Otago fullback Josh Buchan sailed through a gap and kicked for the corner, there was a race for the ball but Filipo saved the day.
In the 30th minute Wellington threw long to prop Alex Fidow at the back of a lineout. Fidow charged 60 metres. Centre Levi Harmon carried this movement on and linked up with second five-eighth Lester Maulolo who scored the game’s first try. Pivot Sam Fox converted and Wellington led 10-9.
Fox kicked a 30-metre angled penalty to put Wellington ahead 13-9 at the turnaround.
Otago wing Adam Simpson collected a fumble and ran 75 metres to open the second half scoring and put Otago ahead 14-13.
Simpson was also to prove a nemesis for Wellington on defence, bundling Wellington’s Filipo into touch four times throughout the match.
Fox missed a penalty, before a pick and go resulted in a try to Wellington lock Isaia Walker-Leawere, converted by Fox to make it 20-14.
Walker-Leawere offloaded to hooker Aumua who powered down the wing, bowled over the fullback and scored, extending the lead to 25-14.
Filipo made another break, but he was brought down short. Walker-Leawere supported and crossed for his second try to make it 30-14 to Wellington. The last try was scored by centre Harmon following a lumbering run by flanker Folau Vea.
Otago were also left to rue a malfunctioning lineout in the second half, losing several of their own throws, contributing to Wellington’s runaway win.
For Wellington, Vea, Walker-Leawere and Fidow all played well, while for Otago fullback Buchan, right wing Simpson and flanker and captain Slade Slade McDowall all battled gamely. Former All Black Aaron Pene’s son Sam toiled hard at No. 8.
Premiership: Waikato v Auckland B
Waikato 41 (Samisoni Taukei’aho 2, Spencer Jones, Asipeli Mafuataimi, Sam Toa, Jayden Treviranus tries; Matthew Lansdown 3 con, pen; Tom Stewart con) Beat Auckland B 0. HT: 17-0.
Waikato has defeated Auckland B 41-0 to win through to the semi-finals of the National U19 Championships for a third consecutive year.
Waikato started strongly when former New Zealand Schools flanker Luke Jacobson busted 25-metres and created a lineout penalty opportunity for his side. The resulting opening try was scored by hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho. The rake grabbed a second try a short while later, following a 40 metre break by first five-eighth Matthew Lansdown.
Lansdown converted both tries added a penalty and the halftime score was 17-0.
Auckland’s best chance to score a try in the first half came when bulky wing Noah Mataia surged 60 metres and was sliced down just short of the line.
Auckland B had a period of control early in the second half with some robust pick and goes, however Waikato foiled that assalut and won the second half 24-0 in what was a stop-start affair because of handling errors.
The first try of the second half was scored by impressive Waikato second five-eighth Jayden Treviranus, who breached the defence and dashed 40 metres. Lansdown made another break and passed to fullback Sam Toa who scored.
There was also try scored by Spencer Jones who glided through a hole and ran 30 metres to the chalk.
Players to standout for Waikato included lock Shneil Singh and midfielder Antonio Mikaele Tu’u, while for Auckland B, prop Sebastian Mataele and No. 8 Toma Tia had good games.
The second Michael Jones Championship match saw Hawke’s Bay beat Southand 43-17.
Premiership: Manawatu v Canterbury
Canterbury 57 (Jesse Houston 2, Tom Christie 2, Josh McKay 2, Will Jordan, Jack Lindsay Raymond Nu’u tries; James Mangin 6 con; Josh McKay 1 con) beat Manawatu 10 (Junior Ainea, Massimo Kirikiri tries). HT: 17-5
Defending champions Canterbury have opened their defence of the National U19 tournament with a resounding 57-10 victory over Manawatu.
Manawatu made an encouraging start and scored the game’s first try in the opening minute when a kick was charged down by centre Ueta Tufuga and right wing Junior Ainea crossed.
Manawatu first five-eighth Tyla McNeill then made a 30 metre break but was caught by the Canterbury defence.
The first time Canterbury got the ball in the Manawatu 22 they scored. An initial bust was made by centre Raymond Nu’u who finnished after several phases.
Openside flanker Jesse Houston, out of Christchurch Boys’ High School, scored two tries. He had a 15 metre run to the chalk after a Braydon Ennor break and pass and then he had a 25 metre dash following a break by fullback Will Jordan. This made it 17-5, which was to be the halftime score.
Before the break, Manawatu centre Tufuga fended off four players and was caught just short of the line by Ennor.
In the second half, Canterbury dominated, scoring 40 points to 5. Josh McKay switched from flyhalf to wing and he scored the first two tries of the half. Halfback Josef Meek put a kick in for the winger to chase, the ball was fumbled and fullback Jordan scored. Tom Christie, the NZ Schools flanker from Shirley BHS in 2015 came off the bench and scored two tries, while second five-eighth Jack Lindsay completed the scoring for the red and blacks.
Other players to have good games for Canterbury included lock Ben Morris and No. 8 John Borland, while for Manawatu flanker and captain Liam Giltrap and lock Rhodes Featherson played well.
In the opening Mchael Jones Trophy Championship game, Counties Manukau defeated Northland 45-17.