Both Avalon and Paremata-Plimmerton are hoping to finish their seasons on a high tomorrow. In last round Hardham Cup games, Avalon hosts the Wellington Axemen, Paremata-Plimmerton travels to play Johnsonville and Poneke is the home side against the Upper Hutt Rams. Photo by Hugh Pretorius.
UPDATED: While the sharp end of the club season came to an end last Saturday at the Petone Rec, there’s still plenty of local rugby happening as the remaining club and college grades hit the end of their seasons.
This year’s changed format means that the season runs a week longer for the six teams in the Premier second-tier. However, tomorrow’s games are all dead rubbers as the Upper Hutt Rams have already claimed the trophy. They’ll be presented with it after their match against Poneke at Kilbirnie Park, with the hosts looking for a win to round off their somewhat disappointing year.
Johnsonville will look to finish second when they host Paremata-Plimmerton at Helston Park, while Avalon and Wellington will both look to end on a high note when they clash at Fraser Park.
All three matches kick-off at 2.45pm
As with the Hardham Cup, the Premier Reserve grade winds up this week and like the Premier grade the Upper Hutt Rams will receive this trophy as well, after their final game against Poneke – who will finish second – at Kilbirnie. Johnsonville and Paremata-Plimmerton will fight over third when they meet in the early game at Helston, while Wellington will try to avoid a winless year when they take on Avalon at Fraser Park.
All three matches are 1pm kick-offs.
Both divisions of the lightweight grade hit their last week of the round-robin, playing a round of matches from earlier that were originally cancelled.
In the Division 1 Paul Potiki Shield the four for the playoffs are already decided with Wellington, Avalon, Tawa, and Eastbourne already through to next week. The Axemen remain unbeaten and will secure top spot should they beat HOBM at the Hutt Rec at 1pm, but a lack of bonus points – remarkably they haven’t secured a single one this round – mean that they could be passed by Avalon should they lose and the Wolves beat Eastbourne on the grass at Fraser Park at 2.45pm. Tawa will warm up for the playoffs when they take on Poneke at Te Whaea in another 1pm start, while Kapiti and Johnsonville will finish their year off at Te Atiawa Park at 2.45pm.
In the Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shield the competition will come up one week short of a full round-robin. The OBU Bunnies have already secured top spot, even if one game is removed from their tally as they will have played one more game than the rest, and should have few problems against MSP Green in the only 1pm kick-off at the Evans Bay Artificial. The other two games have playoff implications as the four teams fight out the last three places, and chances are that the WRFU rule book will be consulted to sort it out even after the games are played. Wests and MSP Red take to the Ian Galloway cage, while at the top of the Hutt Valley is the local derby match at Maoribank Park between the Upper Hutt Rams and Stokes Valley, both at 2.45pm.
Like the 85s, second-tier, both First Grade divisions will be one week short of a full round-robin ahead of the playoffs which muddies the picture somewhat.
In the Division 1 Johnsonville Centennium Cup the OBU Wolfpack are currently top after already being awarded five points for their scheduled fixture against Norths Reds (who have already advised that they won’t be able to field a team), but they’ll have to wait to see if they even have a home semi-final next weekend in defence of their title as they could be overhauled by no fewer than three sides. One of those are the HOBM Barbarians, who head into the city to take on MSP at Evans Bay though since MSP thrashed the Norths Uso’s last weekend it would be anything but a given. The Uso’s need to rebound and get a win, and they’re on home field at Porirua Park against Poneke. The game of the day however is the crunch one at the Petone Rec between the home Brotherhood and the Stokes Valley Chiefs; Petone need to win – preferably with a bonus point – and hope that either HOBM or Norths lose otherwise they’re gone while remarkably Stokes Valley, who are nominally first going into the round, could miss the playoffs altogether if they lose and both HOBM and Norths win their matches.
Over in the Division 2 Paul Donoghue Memorial Johnsonville and Avalon will host next weekend’s semi-finals, but who they’ll play and where the final would be the following week if they both win those is still to be determined. Johnsonville has the scheduled bye while Avalon take on the Poneke Ruffnuts at Te Whaea and could tie or pass them on points, a situation compounded by the fact that the two teams won’t have played each other. A Poneke win will see them through, as will wins for Tawa and the Stokes Valley Rhinos, but those latter two play each other at Lyndhurst. The third match is at Maidstone Park between the Upper Hutt Pirates and Wainuiomata sides.
All six First Grade matches are at 2.45pm.
The obvious focus tomorrow falls on the two Premiership semi-finals, previewed in detail yesterday here on Club Rugby. Silverstream will look to continue their dominance when they host St Pat’s Town – who they beat 42-5 three weeks ago – in one match at 2.20pm, while the other has Scots up against Wellington College. The Scots-Wellington semi-final has been moved to Evans Bay Park at 1pm.
Elsewhere its semi-finals time across the remaining grades. In ones of note the Silverstream 2nd XV – who have been as dominant as their top side – host one of the Premier 2 semis against Aotea at 1pm, while not far up the road in Trentham Hutt International host St Bernard’s in the other at 2.30pm. In Premier 3 top qualifiers Mana host Onslow at 12.30pm, while Upper Hutt face Wainuiomata in the other at 1pm, while in the Under 15 Division 1 semi’s Silverstream hosts Scots – who beat Wellington College in their qualifier last weekend – and St Pats Town take on Rongotai at Evans Bay in the other, both at 10am. We’ll have a preview of all the College finals next weekend with Silverstream again hosting all bar the Premiership match.
There is one title that will be decided tomorrow with the Co-ed winner crowned; Porirua College face Tawa College in the decider of that competition at Ngati Toa Domain starting at 2.30pm. The two have already met once this season in the Premiership with Porirua winning 26-12, in a match which also doubled as a Beard Trophy contest. Tawa made the final beating Onslow 38-0, while in contrast, Porirua needed a last-minute try and conversion to edge Aotea 17-15.