Next week’s finals at a glance:
Old Boys University will have the chance to defend the Jubilee Cup, while Northern United will be gunning for the Swindale Shield – Jubilee Cup double when they meet in next week’s Wellington club rugby championship decider at the Petone Recreation Ground.
In today’s two semi-finals, Norths defeated Hutt Old Boys Marist 41-26 and OBU overcame Ories 34-19.
A fast start in each-half coupled with a superior set-piece was the telling difference in the 1 v 4 battle between Norths and HOBM at Jerry Collins Stadium.
Norths wing Junior Time-Taotua set the tone by poaching an intercept in the first minute and darting 40-metres.
The game was then delayed for several minutes at the next kick-off when HOBM wing Albert Polu was carried off the field after a nasty head clash. Norths momentum wasn't halted though and a rolling maul produced a second try.
HOBM regrouped and managed to square proceedings by halftime. Wing Fereti Soloa crossed the chalk from a simple overlap and then turned provider for Glen Walters. Planet-sized prop Rei Manaia also ploughed through as the visitors appeared to have the momentum.
Time-Taotua was in sparkling form and a thrilling break shortly after the interval resulted in no profit, but a short time later Time-Taotua wouldn't be denied chasing down a kick.
Norths were lethal from broken play and a movement involving half a dozen players saw lock Chris Middleton stride clear.
HOBM employed at least three different lineout throwers and conceded two tightheads as their forwards unrivalled. When exceptional openside Du’Plessis Kirifi scored Norths seventh try it was curtains for the Eagles.
Samoa 7s rep Tomasi Alosio added plenty of spark for HOBM and set up the last try of the match for wing Jerome Harimate.
Norths have won 8 out of 11 semi-finals and the top qualifier has won 13 times in the last 15 years.
Norths have beaten final opponents OBU twice this season.
OBU will be worthy finals opponents after being too good for Ories in the 2 v 3 semi-final at the Neutral Hutt Recreation Ground.
OBU’s consistent swarming defence, their strong pack and their continuity between backs and forwards all contributed to an emphatic Goats performance. OBU led 34-7 after 65 minutes, two runaway consolation tries to Ories closing the score at the end.
Ories also lost both their starting props, during the game, which led to goldie oldies scrums being put down for the final 30 minutes. Talisman Whetu Henry left the field midway through the first half and he was joined by young gun Xavier Numia early in the second. Starting hooker Penieli Poasa was then sin-binned and by that stage OBU were in control.
Playing into the wind, OBU opened the scoring through the forwards after a break by left wing Te Wehi Wright. OBU made an error from the next kick-off, allowing Ories to swing on to attack and they soon scored to make it 7-7.
In the 30th minute, Te Wehi Wright burst clear again and offloaded to halfback Matt Fowler to score under the bar. On halftime, OBU’s forwards scored their third try after 75 seconds of concerted phase play near the line. OBU led 19-7 at halftime.
The Goats extended their lead to 22-3 with a penalty as Poasa saw yellow, followed by two further tries that sealed the semi-final for them, right wing Tai Neli and replacement bookend Joel Hintz.
With little time left, Ories broke out and scored two well-taken tries to end their season, to replacement Adam Deck and centre Malo Tuitama.
The two Hardham Cup semi-finals were hard-fought, with Petone beating the Upper Hutt Rams 32-24 and Wainuiomata defeating Johnsonville 27-19.
Petone’s win over the Rams was in extra time.
The Rams had fought back from 5-24 down to score their final try with two minutes remaining and convert to make it 24-24 after 80 minutes.
Petone kicked an extra time penalty to make it 27-24 and then scored their winning try early in the second half of extra time to clinch victory.
Earlier, Petone had taken a 17-5 lead into halftime with the wind in their favour, which could have been more at the break if not for a missed try with a three-man overlap.
Petone did go ahead to 24-5 soon after the interval, courtesy of a slap down by Rams back Tyler Tane and a penalty try. Industrious prop Neva Apineru barged over to close the score to 24-10, prop Devon Healy-McDonald (just back from the sin-bin) scored to make it 24-17 and then with a couple of minutes to play Tane scored and converted his own try to send the playoff into extra time.
At William Jones Park, Wainuiomata were made to work hard by Johnsonville, who opened the try scoring to flyhalf Varani Komaisavai. He almost scored a second try soon after but was called back after being over the line.
Wainuiomata scored a key try out wide on halftime to take a 11-7 lead into the oranges, before pulling clear with two penalties and try to flanker Greg Lealofi to take a 24-7 lead. Johnsonville scored through prop Tietie Tuimauga but TJ Va’a extended the lead with another penalty. Johnsonville flanker Joel Knight scored a consolation try at the end.
In the Premier Reserve Division 1 Ed Chaney Cup semi-finals, top qualifier Ories nudged Poneke 13-6 and first round winners Marist St Pat’s defeated Northern United 32-14, to set up an all eastern suburbs final.
In the two Premier Reserve HD Morgan Memorial semi-finals, Petone beat Wainuiomata 44-17 and Johnsonville defeated the Upper Hutt Rams 24-7.
In the two Les Mills Colts Division 1 John E Kelly Cup semi-finals, HOBM defeated MSP 22-19 and OBU beat Norths 48-17.
The HOBM – MSP semi-final was a thriller.
Playing into the wind, HOBM scorched in for three first half tries to lead 19-0 late in the first half, capitalising on MSP errors and dominating the set-piece. They should have gone further ahead, but missed consecutive chances late in the first half that were created from scrum turnovers.
MSP closed the first spell with a penalty and went into the break trailing 3-19.
HOBM dominated possession and territory for the first 20 minutes of the second half but failed to add to the score. Their right wing was sinbinned, giving MSP an opening. They made a break up the blindside and crossed only to be called back for a foot in touch. But in the 70th minute they finally scored to close the gap to 8-19.
From the next kick-off MSP stormed up field and cut through to score a converted try to close the score to 15-19. With their tails up, MSP won a penalty and drove from a lineout, soon coming up with the score that put them in the lead at 20-19.
With three minutes to play, HOBM got back on to attack and won a penalty. Their first five-eighth missed the handy penalty from just outside his 22. MSP cleared but HOBM swarmed back on to attack and won another penalty, this one under the posts. This time the Eagles right wing called for the tee and he made no mistake by nailing the winning kick with the last play of the game.
There was no such drama in the second Colts Division 1 semi-final at Porirua Park, where OBU cantered to a 48-17 win over a disappointing top qualifier Norths side.
OBU scored three quick tries on the back of a dominant set piece and Norths errors. Norths had two players yellow carded but conceded no points. OBU was at least 30 ahead before Norths got. some cheap tries at the end to close the final score.
In the Colts Division 2 Vic Calcinai Memorial Cup semi-finals, Ories defeated OBU Black 35-28 and Poneke beat Wainuiomata 43-18.
The two Division 1 Women’s semi-finals were fairly predictable, if not the margin of victory in one, if not both, games.
At Porirua Park, Norths cantered to a 48-5 semi-final win over Petone. Wings Dhys Faleafaga (3) and Eden Gibson (2) scored five of eight tries.
At the Polo Ground, the Ories Women galloped to a 106-0 win over Paremata-Plimmerton. Wings Ayesha Leti-l’iga and Bernadette Robertson scored five tries each in the 16 tries to nil win.
OBU and HOBM will meet in next week's Women's Division 2 final, and they both won comfortably today. OBU beat Avalon 34-12 and HOBM overcame Poneke 65-12.
In College Premiership rugby, the four semi-finalists have been decided with a round to spare. All that it is to be confirmed is the exact order of finishing and who will play whom.
In today’s games, Scots College defeated St Bernard’s 62-7, Rongotai beat Kapiti 26-12, Wairarapa College defeated HIBS 41-5 and Wellington College beat Porirua College by default.
In a Premier 2 top of the table clash today, the St Pat’s Silverstream edged Aotea College 15-13.