UPDATED SUNDAY: The Wellington Pride and two of the three Centurions teams won convincingly in representative matches around the region and further afield today.
The Wellington Pride beat the Otago Spirit 38-10 to take their second consecutive bonus point in the Farah Palmer Cup NPC competition (more below).
The Centurions Development side flew to an 81-17 win over the Manawatu Development at the Hutt Recreation Ground and the Centurions U18s defeated the Wellington Community U18s 40-22 at Porirua Park (more below).
The Wellington Samoans met a 19-43 defeat to the Hawke’s Bay Saracens, all but guaranteeing Hawke’s Bay the Hurricanes Shield title next week when they play lowly Manawatu in the last round.
Having already beaten the Wellington Maori (who had their bye today) and the Wellington Samoans, the Centurions Development were presented with the Festival Cup.
The Centurions led 38-17 at halftime with the wind and stayed well on top throughout the second half. Prop Alipati Soke scored a double with the other tries shared around.
The third Centurions team in action today was the U85kg side who lost 10-14 to the Tasman U18s in Nelson. The Centurions U85kgs were up 10-3 at halftime, but rolling subs and a smaller squad of 21 players took its toll in the second half.
In age-grade representative results from today, the Wellington U16As beat Hawke’s Bay U16A 43-31, the Wellington U16 Development beat Hawke’s Bay U16 Development 24-10, the Wellington U18 Girls beat the Tasman U18 Girls 60-19 and the Wellington U13s beat the Wanganui U14s 95-7.
The Wellington Maori Development team missed out to the Wanganui Development team 29-36 in the final of the RDO Cup in Levin.
The Wellington Pride turned a first half of few opportunities into an emphatic five tries to two win over a disruptive Otago side in their third round Women’s NPC fixture at Jerry Collins Stadium.
Playing into a moderate wind, the Pride spent almost the entire first half on the back foot, and much of it inside their own 22, but for the most part Otago failed to capitalise on a wealth of territory and possession.
The Pride were all over Otago’s lineout and shut down several promising waves of attack all inside the first 30 minutes. The Pride were also forced to rearrange their loose forwards early after starting No. 8 Tina Paulo departed with a serious arm injury.
It wasn’t until the 35th minute until Otago finally scored the game’s first points and their only try before their other one in the 80th minute when right wing Kiana Wereta scored after an attacking scrum. Up to that point, Wereta had made a good fist of containing Ayesha Leti L'iga by cutting her down with a series of bootlace tackles on the edge of an enthusiatic defensive screen.
Moments earlier, lively Otago first five-eighth Rosie Kelly had made a break and offloaded to hooker Tegan Hollows only for the rake to be held up over the line in a great scrambling tackle by Pride left wing Leti-L’iga.
This try stung the Pride into action and they won the resulting kick-off and poured into Otago’s 22 for the first time in the match thus far. This led to a penalty in front of the sticks and second five-eighth Amanda Rasch kicked this to close the gap to 5-3.
The Pride got themselves straight back on to attack and stretched Otago through the forwards. On a penalty advantage, captain Jackie Patea-Fereti took a quick tap but was repelled. Loosehead prop Angel Uila was on hand and she drove over the line to score their first try and put the Pride up 10-5 at halftime.
Now with the wind, the Pride struck next in the 45th minute. Winning a penalty from a scrum on halfway they kicked for a lineout and first went up the middle towards the posts and then went wide with right wing Monica Tagoai and try-scorer Leti-L’iga both involved. Rasch’s conversion put them ahead 17-5.
The Pride went in again 10 minutes later for back-to-back tries that sealed the result, with consecutive tries to Patea-Fereti and Leti’L’iga (her second) extending their lead to 31-5.
They clinched the win with their fifth and final try in the 70th minute, replacement centre Bernadette Robertson cutting through to score to make it 38-5.
Too their credit, Otago fought hard to the end and they were rewarded with a consolation try on fulltime to replacement back Amy Du Plessis in front of the clubrooms.
The Pride have an eight-day turnaround before their next match, against Tasman in Nelson next Sunday where they will be gunning to make it three consecutive wins over South Island opposition.
The Wellington Centurions U18s were convincing winners in the end in the second match on Jerry Collins Stadium this afternoon.
The opening 30 minutes was a generally even affair, with both sides scoring two tries each and the Centurions leading 14-12, before a try right on the oranges gave them a 19-12 advantage.
The No. 8s scored three of the first five tries. Centurions No. 8 Epirama Sailo, with the bright yellow boots, finished off a lovely break by centre and Scots College teammate Sage Shaw-Tait after a quickly taken 22 re-start and regather.
Playing with the dying wind first term, the Community side hit back through St Pat’s Town No. 8 Josh Mallon after they stretched the defence one way and then the other.
The Centurions hit the lead for the first and only time after a Mallon intercept in general play and run up the far touchline and then a lovely weighted kick and chase by Rongotai College first five-eighth Kayden Muller that second five-eighth Dallas Sami from Tawa College latched on to and out sprinted all comers.
The Centurions replied with a try to St Pat’s Town lock Liam McAree from a penalty and lineout drive in the corner.
Right on halftime, the Centurions had another penalty and lineout in the same far northern corner and this time No. 8 Sailo came up with his brace.
Now with the breeze, the Centurions struck with back-to-back tries to take a match-winning 33-12 lead into the final 20 minutes. Tries to replacements, Issac Sailo from Scots College and Marino Doyle from Wellington College proved decisive.
The Community side needed to score next, and they did when Avalon halfback Waylon Tuhoro-Robinson put in a grubber in broken play for Mana College fullback Mofate Siupolu to run on to and score off.
Replacement halfback Mati Matofai from Aotea College ran from an attacking srcum and fed Norths right wing JT Tautoa who swerved around his opposite but came up short. Poneke hooker Mitchell Gough came up with a try from the next phase that closed the margin to 22-33.
With five minutes to play, the Centurions were awarded a penalty and called for the kicking tee. Upper Hutt Rams Replacement Greg Te Kura kicked the penalty but it hit the posts and came back inside the field of play. The Centurions scrambled to regain possession and No. 8 Sailo fed St Pat’s Town lock Dominic Bell a try in the corner that sealed victory. Having had a sighter, Te Kura nailed the sideline conversion to give the Centurions their 40-22 win.
Meanwhile, the defending Central Shield U18 competition champions the Wellington Samoans U18s had a 47-13 win over the Wanganui U18s.
Elsewhere, the Wairarapa-Bush U18s defeated the East Coast U18s 80-7 and the Poverty Bay U18s overcame the Horowhenua Kapiti U18s 50-21.
Wellington have finished fourth in the Graham Mourie Cup - losing the third placed playoff 21-10 to North Harbour at the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under-19 tournament in Taupo.
It was one of those days for Wellington where nothing went right as North Harbour led from start to finish in a forgettable spectacle.
North Harbour’s defence was organised and aggressive, but Wellington’s handling was poor as they were left to rue repeat fumbles.
Assured North Harbour first-five Jack Heighton opened the scoring by nailing a 35-metre penalty after two minutes.
Five minutes later Wellington were pinged for offside, but Heighton was off target from a similar distance.
In the 21st minute Heighton doubled North Harbour’s advantage with a second penalty. Things went for bad to worse for the Junior Lions when strapping second-five Thomas Barham bustled through and touched down close to the posts. Heighton added the extras and North Harbour was 13-0 ahead.
Shamus Langton worked tirelessly. The Billy Goats No.8 made two clean steals in the first-half alone and scored a try in the corner approaching the interval. Some strong running from Ricky Manulaiatea and Todd Svenson had helped create some rare momentum.
Two forward passes, both five-metres out from their own line, was a hapless start to the second-half. Heighton punished Wellington again with a third penalty.
North Harbour were happy to embrace a cautious approach, feeding off Wellington mistakes of which there were plenty. In fact the second-half was catalogue of missed chances.
Flanker DJ Taoipu dropped the ball in a clear hole. Svenson fumbled attempting to reach out and force down in the corner. Jack Wright conceded a turnover from a five-five lineout and Manulaiatea was tackled into touch after 30-metre surge.
In the 51st minute disaster struck when Kyle Preston was bundled off the ball by Heighton, the latter dribbling ahead and collecting a second North Harbour try.
In the 62nd minute centre Albert Polu had the final say refusing to wilt in the grasp of three tacklers.
For North Harbour props Nadi Tulia and Isileli Kioa were effective on the carry and flankers Josh Tanner and Sam Johnson outplayed their opposites.
For Wellington Captain Taine Plumtree deserves acclaim, toiling stubbornly.
Wellington did improve three places on their 2017 finish.