Above the Northern United Usos beat the Petone Brotherhood 29-25 when they met in May. Another close encounter is expected in their semi-final at Jerry Collins Stadium tomorrow.
While the Premier season has concluded, there are still four grades in action and five titles to be decided. Two of those grades are in semi-finals this weekend, another into their penultimate round with all three to crown their winners next Saturday, while the fourth – the Presidents Grade – signs off for the season.
Updated Representative rugby is also kicking off this weekend - see below for details/teamlists.
Four teams remain standing in each of the Division 1 Paul Potiki and Division 2 Tony O’Brien Shields.
In the top flight, the Wellington Axemen qualified top and warmed up with a 79-0 romp over HOBM last Saturday. Unbeaten on the field this year (their only ‘loss’ was a default in the season-opening knockout series), they’ll be looking to keep that and their hopes of the JC Bowl-Paul Potiki trophy double intact, and not fall at the same stage they did last year. Their opponents are Eastbourne who had enough of a buffer that their defeat to Avalon in the final round didn’t matter, but the seasiders will have to find a way through a tough Wellington defence, though their last meeting was a 17-12 win to the Axemen. With Hataitai Park still out of commission, the pair will meet on Kilbirnie Park’s #2 ground.
The other semi-final is out in the Hutt Valley where Avalon faces defending champions Tawa on the grass at Fraser Park. The pair have filled the minor places behind Wellington in both round-robin phases, and while Tawa have won both matches between the two the margin couldn’t have been any smaller with one-point scorelines (16-15 and 18-17) both times; if that holds true then this should be a cracker. Avalon fended off Eastbourne last Saturday, while Tawa put up 50 against Poneke.
In the second-tier the OBU Bunnies bounced-back from the relegation at the end of the first round to earn top qualifier status, and will host the Upper Hutt Rams – who won what amounted to a quarter-final against Stokes Valley last Saturday - at Te Whaea in their semi-final, while the other pits the MSP Reds against last year’s winners of this title, Western Suburbs, at Evans Bay.
All four matches kick-off at 2.45pm.
Like the 85s, four teams are still alive in the two divisions.
In the Division 1 Johnsonville Centennium Cup a frantic last weekend saw the leaders going into the round – the Stokes Valley Chiefs – miss out on the playoffs and the Norths Uso’s wind up as top-qualifier on a table where two points separated first and fifth and all those teams had four-win, two-loss records; all of which makes picking this weekend’s semi-finals a tough task.
Norths’ reward is the home confines of Porirua Park where they’ll face the Petone Brotherhood with both looking to go one step further than last year when they were the two losing semi-finalists. They had contrasting weeks last Saturday; Norths didn’t have to lift a finger when Poneke were unable to field a side, while Petone won their do-or-die match against Stokes Valley by 19-10.
The other semi-final is the rematch of last year’s grade final as the Hutt Old Boys Marist Barbarians host the defending champion Old Boys-University Wolfpack at the Hutt Rec. Like Norths, OBU didn’t even take the field last weekend while HOBM had an entertaining 34-31 win over MSP at Evans Bay. The two have had a pair of high-scoring encounters this year; HOBM winning 33-29 en route to winning the first-round Thompson Memorial, but OBU the second match 40-29 during this round which might be an indicator how this one will play out.
Over in the Division 2 Paul Donoghue Memorial Avalon finished top and will host Tawa at Fraser Park in their semi-final. Both sides won high-scoring affairs last Saturday; Avalon 34-33 over the Poneke Ruffnuts, while Tawa took the last place in the playoffs beating the Stokes Valley Rhinos 33-27. The second semi-final has the Johnsonville Cripples – the only side other than the Oriental-Rongotai women to be undefeated in competition this year – hosting the Upper Hutt Rams’ Pirates side at Helston. The Pirates beat Wainuiomata 35-5 in their last round match, while the Cripples had the scheduled bye.
All four of these matches also get underway at 2.45pm
Unlike the other two competitive grades the Reserve Grade will play out the round-robin to find their champion without a finals series, but since that will still come up a round of matches short the WRFU bylaws will again get a thorough going over.
The Upper Hutt Thirsty Rams hold top spot and host the Wests Mixed Veges at Maoribank but have played one more game than their nearest pursuers, their J8 clubmates, who host the MSP Internationals couple of k’s away at Maidstone. The third of the 2.45pm games is an all-OBU affair as the Pink Ginners and 69ers take to Prince of Wales Park, while there’s a 1pm start for the other two OBU sides at Te Whaea as the Righteous Brothers look to defend the Ruru Shield against the Teddy Bears.
Lastly, the senior citizens of Wellington club rugby finish up their year with the annual ‘Presidents Day’, this year being hosted by Johnsonville. All fourteen sides are scheduled to have one last hit-out, with matches at diverse locations nearby such as Onslow and Newlands Colleges.
The 2017 representative season kicks off this weekend, with two Wellington teams traveling to Palmerston North and Napier and a match at home between the Wellington Samoans and Wellington Tongans women’s sides.
The Wellington U19s play the Hurricanes Heartland U20s in Palmerston in the opening round of the Central Region Shield, which acts as a seeding tournament for the National U19 tournament in Taupo from 10-16 September. Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay clash in the other match tomorrow.
The Wellington U19s team is:
1. Ben Aumua Peseta (Tawa)
2. Jacob Mua (Paremata-Plimmerton)
3. Pasi Uluilakepa (Petone)
4. Eammon Carr (Johnsonville)
5. Angus Morton (Petone)
6. Callum James Watts Pointer (Northern United)
7. Naera Tipoki (Captain, Old Boys University)
8. Junior Foatiua (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
9. Regan Sword (Marist St Pat’s)
10. Esi Komaisavai (Northern United)
11. Malachai Unasa (Oriental-Rongotai)
12. Tisi Finau (Tawa)
13. Jahzeel Marais (Poneke)
14. Sione Ma’u (Oriental-Rongotai)
15. Adam Clark (Old Boys University)
16. Laurence-Jarel Lim (Old Boys University)
17. Junior Davey (Paremata-Plimmerton)
18. Meinrad Fitsemanu (Marist St Pat’s)
19. Jack Wright (Upper Hutt Rams)
20. Chris Hicks (Old Boys University)
21. Roy Maiva (Paremata-Plimmerton)
22 Callum Whitten (Old Boys University)
23. Grayson Whitman (Marist St Pat’s)
Kick off at 1pm
9. Taimane Siaosi
10. Lesina O
11. Paige Va’auli
12. Loretta Maiava
13. Tracy Isaako
14. Kayla Rei
15. Lee Isaako
16. Emelemoa Makisi
17. Alysshah Tatupu
18. Tialemaua Matini
19. Riauviana Taulealo
21. Sieni Mose
28. Liana Seiuli
29. Teana Aliva
1. Losaline Hopoi
2. Te Ra Keno
3. Mele Manu
4. Ateca Rainforth
5. Setaita Pedro
6. Ngarangi David
7. Alohagia Tu'angalu
8. Beryl Ena
9. Emily Nearing
10. Aggy Faraimo
11. Teresa Tu'angalu
12. Emma Hopoi
13. Alysa Simi Sikuea
14. Danica Tavite
15. Nau Tavite
16. Molly Humphreys
17. Lise Enari
18. Tracey Tofilau
19. Mata Taafua
20. Kesi Wong Kee
21. Anoanoai Hafoka
22. Ana Telefoni-Manu
23. Sauimoana Solia
24. Marina Soloa
25. Christina Ualesi