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Lions semi-final and Village Kings and Condors tournaments this weekend

Representative Rugby | 20 October 2017 | Scott MacLean

Lions semi-final and Village Kings and Condors tournaments this weekend

Three big events provide the local rugby entertainment this long weekend.

That starts tonight with the Wellington Lions taking on Northland at the Stadium in their Men’s NPC Championship semi-final, where the two sides should be quite familiar with each other having only met last Thursday night. That 36-18 result left Northland sweating on the outcome of other games, and only made it into the playoffs when Hawke’s Bay beat Manawatu in the final game on Sunday afternoon.

For the Lions it’s a chance to cement a home final in their quest to return to the Premiership for 2018 and perhaps exorcise any demons after falling at the same stage to North Harbour last year. Coach Chris Gibbes has made a few changes; one of those is enforced with Vaea Fifita back on All Blacks duty so Galu Taufale comes in at No. 8 with skipper Brad Shields moving to the blindside. The other two sees Sheridan Rangihuna start at halfback to partner Jackson Garden-Bachop in the halves, while after coming off the bench last time out Asafo Aumua will be able to torment the Taniwha from the start as he and front row partner Alex Fidow look to add to their tallies of 7 tries each.

A win will see them host either Otago or Bay of Plenty in next Friday night’s final.


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Tomorrow attention switches to Porirua Park and the Wellington Samoan Rugby Union’s sixth annual Village Kings 10’s tournament, something that WSRU director Vice Saletele is looking forward to, saying “the WSRU believe we're on the right path to hosting a successful National Village Kings Tournament tomorrow. This year we have 10 competitive men's teams with an entry from the Queensland Samoans. The Australians have also brought over a women's team who will face our Wellington Samoan Women's team in a 3 game series throughout the day.

RLM

We expect to see a lot of competitiveness, bone-crunching tackles, big collisions and silky ball handling skills on display all played in good spirit.”

“The annual National Village Kings Tournament will only get bigger and better thanks to the continued support of our community. We would also like to acknowledge our sponsors and help received not only for this tournament but for the whole representative campaign which has helped to make our season a success.” He adds.

Joining the Queenslanders in the ‘out-of-town’ brigade are sides from the Horowhenua and Manawatu. The two ladies sides get the tournament underway at 9am with the men’s playoffs from 2pm and the final times for 5.20pm. The men’s format sees the two pools of five play a round-robin with the top two from each progressing to the Cup and the next two into the Bowl.

Those pools are:

Pool A: Moata’a, Wellington Fijians, Horowhenua, Wainuiomata, Faleata
Pool B: Queensland, Manawatu, Tanugamanono, Wellington Samoans, Aiga Malisi

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Finally on Monday, focus switches to the shortest form of the game with the Condor 7’s Wellington regional qualifier at Naenae College, and the bid for places at the national event at Auckland’s Sacred Heart College in the first weekend of December.

One school assured of being there is St Mary’s College who will return by right as the current national champions, and they will be red-hot favourites to win the Girls section and retain the Kat Simpkins Trophy. However one benefit of their success is that a second girls’ team from Wellington will go to the nationals this year, and there are five sides to vie for that place.

Perennial contenders Aotea College would seem to have the inside running on paper, but Wellington East, Porirua, Wainuiomata, Taita, and Naenae would also have eyes on that.

In the Boys section St Pat’s Town will look to hold onto the Christian Cullen Cup as boys winners by repeating the efforts of last year’s team that won this, then went on to top their pool at the nationals and contest the Cup rounds. They’ll face strong challenges however from Premiership winners and last year’s runners-up St Pats Silverstream (who after losing all three pool games at the nationals rebounded on Day 2 to win the Shield section) and Scots College, while Wellington College seem to be making a real effort this year. They’ll be joined by fellow 2017 Premiership schools Rongotai and Porirua who could be dark horses, Premier 2 sides St Bernard’s, Taita, Bishop Viard, and Naenae, and Premier 3 winners Mana. To balance the draw Wellington College have a second team, but they are ineligible to progress to the Cup rounds.

Perhaps disappointing are those that are absent including Premiership schools Tawa College and Hutt Valley HS, regular competitors Wainuiomata (in the boys), and any of the Upper Hutt schools other than Silverstream.

Pool A: St Pats Town, St Bernard’s, Wellington College 2
Pool B: Silverstream, Porirua, Mana
Pool C: Scots, Rongotai, Naenae
Pool D: Bishop Viard, Wellington College 1, Taita
Pool G: St Mary’s, Wellington East, Taita, Naenae
Pool H: Aotea, Porirua, Wainuiomata

Play gets underway with the first round of matches at 9am and playoff games start from midday. The finals are timed to start from 2.40pm with the Girls at 3.20pm followed by the Boys at 3.50pm.

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