Above: The Jubilee Cup takes its place in the trophy cabinet at Wellington Rugby late last week.
Six days out from the 2013 Jubilee Cup final between Tawa and Oriental-Rongotai at the Hutt Recreation Ground we’ve documented the first decade of finals between 1993-2003 since the modern playoff format was introduced.
This is part one of a two-part article. In 2004 the Jim Brown Medal was first awarded for the Player of the Final. Part two will feature the individual Jim Brown Medal winners and their contributions to the finals between 2004-2012.
Petone teams won both the Hardham Cup and Jubilee Cup finals this year. The Petone second XV beat Stokes Valley 32-18 to win the Hardham Cup, while in the Jubilee Cup final, flanker Martin Leslie scored three minutes from fulltime and first five-eighth Simon Mannix added a penalty to seal their win over MSP. Leading by just four points, Leslie crashed over and the celebrations started. Leslie and blindside flanker Inoke Afeaki, in his first match for Petone all season after injury, were the players of the match for the winners. For MSP, goal kicking halfback Elton Monecrieff kicked five penalties. Afterwards MSP captain Iain Potter signaled that his side would be back stronger the following year.
Potter’s prediction rung true as MSP overcome favourites Petone - for the second time in the season. Petone’s only loss all year before this was to MSP, to decide the Swindale Shield. To negate Petone’s threatening backline, MSP attacked them up front and also employed a wide game plan themselves. Loose forward Gordon Simpson set the tone after 5 minutes by charging down a Simon Mannix clearing kick and scoring. Mannix scored Petone’s only try of the half to give the Villagers a 13-8 lead at the break, but MSP fullback Jeremy Coulter struck after the interval to make it 13-13. Centre Paul Schmidt-Uli scored to put MSP ahead 18-13 and two late penalties and a dropped goal seal victory. MSP piled on 19 unanswered points in the second half.
This third consecutive final between MSP and Petone went down to the wire. MSP retained the Jubilee Cup and achieved the Swindale Sheld - Cup double for the second consecutive year. They did so by holding on over the final 20 minutes. In a dramatic finish, Petone laid siege to MSP’s line at the end and Petone were unlucky not to score when a pass from Simon Mannix to wing Alex Telea was knocked down. Earlier, MSP had led 17-5 at halftime with tries to wing Lua Kaololo and flanker Gordon Simpson. With the wind, Petone closed to within striking distance through a Tana Umaga try and two Mannix penalties.
The lowest scoring final of the past 20 years. Poneke win their first Jubilee Cup since 1975. The final is won up front and in defence, an exhaustive effort led by retiring Poneke flanker Shane McClure (now their coach). In typical Poneke fashion, they ground down first time finalists Western Suburbs and kept play simple and tight. Poneke first five-eighth James Ogden landed two dropped goals and a long-range penalty into the wind. Wests were starved for opportunties and wing Shane Tiatia’s try in the 15th minute was the only try of the final. Ogden gave Poneke their 9-8 lead with his second dropped goal and then they held on for 20 minutes.
Two years after winning the Jubilee Cup as a player, Iain Potter guided MSP to the title as a coach. In the final against great rivals Petone, MSP turned to play into a strong southerly in the second half leading just 8-0. They extended this to 13-0 with a try to wing Dominic Feauanati. Karl Te Nana scored an intercept try for Petone but MSP clung on to win 13-7. Led by All Blacks wing Tana Umaga, Petone threw everything at MSP over the final 10 minutes, plus injury time. But MSP soaked up the pressure until then end. For MSP, No. 8 Issac Feauanati was the Man of the Match with a herculean effort.
The highest scoring final of the past 20 years with a cumulative 74 points scored. In a fast and furious start to the final, Wests outscored Tawa three tries to one in the opening quarter, including scoring the second off a tighthead scrum win and a 60 metre dash up field. Wests led 24-7 at halftime. Centre Mark Fatialofa scored two tries in quick succession midway through the second spell and at this point Wests could start their celebrations early. Replacement fullback Star Ah Kuoi added the icing by scoring an 80 metre try towards the end. All Wests eight tries were scored by the outside backs.
Athletic Park and club rugby have fitted like a glove for decades. But this is the last ever Premier club match played there ahead of a move in the summer to the new Westpac Stadium. A superb first half performance by MSP’s forwards set up their fourth Jubilee Cup win in the past six years. Heading into the match, Poneke had conceded just four tries in their past 11 matches. But MSP crossed for three tries in the opening 40 minutes and took a match winning 22-3 lead into halftime. MSP scored through fullback Jeremy Coulter and then twice through No. 8 Nic Fitesimanu. Poneke mounted a comeback after the break but for the most part MSP’s defence held and Poneke’s only try came through young fullback Peato Lafaele. David Holwell kicked three penalties and a conversion.
Petone captured their first final since 1993 in front of 7,000 people under lights at the new Westpac Stadium. There was drama at the end as Poneke first five-eighth David Holwell was left lamenting missing a straightforward penalty late in the piece. Holwell, who had kicked Poneke to a 27-26 semi-final victory over MSP the previous week, saw his shot drift to the right of the uprights. Petone had scored through lock Ross Filipo to lead 13-0 at the? break before Poneke came back through a try to flanker Shane Page and Holwell’s boot. David Palu scored an intercept try to put Poneke ahead 17-13, before Riki Flutey scored a seven-pointer and what proved to be the match winner for Petone.
Three straight Jubilee Cup finals and three straight defeats; Poneke missed out to MSP in a second successive Westpac Stadium thriller. Their seven-man scrum held on to the end as Poneke attacked their set-piece with lock Rhys Johnston sin-binned in the dying minutes. Poneke who had Wellington Lions first five-eighth David Holwell pulled from the final owing to representative commitments the next day, watched on as teenaged MSP flyhalf Fa’atonu landed two penalties a conversion and a key dropped goal 15 minutes into the second half. MSP scored two tries through their fullback Apoua Stewart and Poneke crossed through second five-eighth Misipalauni Moananu.
Marist St Pat’s go back-to-back against first time finalists Old Boys University, who are playing for their first Jubilee Cup since University won in 1966 and a year after the club under its previous name Harlequins won the Hardham Cup final. With a string of Hurricanes players and a young Conrad Smith in their ranks, OBU had every right to be optimistic of success against the Red Machine who were top qualifiers. OBU had knocked off Poneke 18-10 the week before in their semi-final. But MSP’s finals experience told and they won two tries to one. Try scorers were Apoua Stewart and Brendan Watt for MSP and Ross Kennedy for OBU.
Poneke spoiled MSP’s three-peat and toasted success after losses in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 finals. Reversing their 22-31 and 25-32 defeats to MSP earlier in the season, Poneke put their foot down from the opening whistle and never let it off. A feature of their win was their gutsy close-quarter defence and one-off running, with locks Conrad Pau’u and Tau Tapasu and No. 8 Adam Holloway prominent. Halfback David Palu also had a strong game, while David Holwell took 16 points from MSP off the kicking tee, including two difficult penalties. Poneke took a 13-3 lead after centre Elvis Feu’u scored on 25 minutes. Penalties kept MSP in contact, but a try to flanker Peter Savelio extended the lead to 11 points. Kas Lealamanua rumbled over for MSP to close the gap but Poneke’s desperate defence over the final 15 minutes held them off again.