Above: Upper Hutt Rams flanker Mitchell Markov crosses for one of their 11 tries against Poneke today in their season ending 71-14 win.
The Upper Hutt Rams top two sides finished with a win and a loss respectively but both walked away from Kilbirnie Park this afternoon with the second round silverware in their possession.
In the early game, the Rams’ second XV lost 16-18 to their Poneke counterparts in a thriller, before being presented with the Premier Reserve HD Morgan Memorial Cup that they wrapped up last weekend.
In the main game, their top side finished with a flourish in beating Poneke 71-14 to end their season on a high and they were presented the Hardham Cup that they had made sure of winning with a round to spare at the end.
The Rams got on top early of a Poneke side that was missing several frontline players due to injury and Wellington Lions squad selections. They scored three converted tries inside the first 30 minutes to lead 21-0.
An injury to Poneke No. 8 Brandon Feterika then saw match to move to the No. 2 field, where the Rams quickly ran in their fourth try upon the resumption of play. Poneke came back briefly and were awarded a penalty try, before the Rams crossed again to lead 35-7 at halftime.
Three quick tries followed early in the second half as the Rams moved past 50 points, eventually pulling clear to more than double their halftime score. First five-eighth Hayden Schrijvers scored four tries, fullback Tafa Tafa scored a hat-trick and halfback Paddy Gluck bagged a brace.
Johnsonville, the only side to beat the Rams in the Hardham Cup round, secured second in this year’s Hardham Cup by beating Paremata-Plimmerton 41-9.
It was an even opening 25 minutes at Helston Park, before Johnsonville edged ahead 12-9 at halftime. However, the floodgates opened in the second spell and Johnsonvile eventually won six tries to nil.
In the curtain-raiser at Helston, the Johnsonville Premier Reserves edged the Paremata-Plimmerton seconds 18-15. With scores locked up at 15-15, Johnsonville’s kicker stepped up and kicked the match-winning penalty from 50 metres out. The Hawks then had to withstand a late assault on their line before holding on for the win.
In the third Hardham Cup match of the day, Avalon defeated the Wellington Axemen 35-32, while Avalon’s second XV won the curtain-raiser Premier Reserve fixture at Fraser Park Artificial 41-14.
In the Paul Potiki Memorial Shield U85kg Division 1 competition, the Wellington Light Axemen qualified top for next week’s semi-finals with a 79-0 win over the HOBM Howlers.
Wellington will play the Eastbourne side in their semi-final, who secured fourth despite losing 5-12 to Avalon today.
Second placed Avalon will play third placed Tawa Titans in the other semi-final next week, after the Titans defeated the Poneke Cavs 57-12 in the other match this afternoon.
In the Division 2 U85kg competition, confirmed top qualifiers the OBU Bunnies warmed up for next weekend’s semi-finals with a 62-17 win over MSP Green, while the Upper Hutt Rams beat Stokes Valley 38-0 and MSP Red beat the Wests Roosters 21-14. The composition of the next week’s sem-finals is pending, as one round was abandoned and a full round-robin was unable to be completed.
The First Grade Johnsonville Centennium Cup semi-finalists will be confirmed early in the week, with five teams finishing the round-robin within two points of each other. HOBM (21 points), Norths Usos (21), OBU (20), the Petone Brotherhood (19) and Stokes Valley Chiefs (19) were all in the mix.
Today’s results from the two games played saw Petone beat Stokes Valley 19-10 and HOBM beat MSP 34-31.
The make-up of the First Grade Division 2 Paul Donoghue Memorial semi-finals is also to be confirmed, but in today’s last round regular season results, the Avalon Wolves pipped the Poneke Ruffnuts 34-33, Tawa beat the Stokes Valley Rhinos 33-27 and the Upper Hutt Pirates struck a 35-5 win over Wainuiomata.