The annual McBain Shield match between Petone and Hutt Old Boys Marist this Saturday also doubles as a top-of-the-table clash. There are also some mouth-watering match-ups amongst the other six Swindale Shield games tomorow.
It is the start of the Women’s and Colts first round competitions and the second week of the U85kg knockout competition and round two in First Grade.
Wainuiomata, Wellington and Tawa are all holding their Old Timers’ Day this weekend too.
Petone v Hutt Old Boys Marist
Venue: Petone Rec
Referee: Richard Gordon (100th Premier game)
The McBain Shield could not be set up better. Hutt and Petone are riding high at the top of the table after a month of the Swindale Shield.
Hutt have won all four games and boast the best attack. Petone 's only loss was a last minute setback to Norths on Gala Day. Petone boasts the best defence.
Petone are the present holders of the McBain Shield having won last year's clash 49-31. Wellington Lion Losi Filipo scored two tries and shapes as a key figure again should he line up at second five-eighth.
Hutt has a huge forward pack and if the likes Rei Mania, David Filipo and Ben Power get a roll on the Eagles are extremely difficult to suppress.
However a feature of the Villagers play is their outstanding loose forwards. The likes of Mateaki Kafatolu, Tupou Sopoaga and Jake Quin have the ability to boss the breakdown.
Hutt are the favourites. They have set the benchmark so far in 2018, but Petone have shown vast improvement lately and will be tough to topple at home. Form is usually thrown out the window in McBain matches so this could genuinely go either way.
This match will be featured on the Rugby Round Up on Te Upoko o Te Ika 1161 AM and on Grassroots TV on Sky Sports in the coming weeks.
Johnsonville v Marist St Pat’s
Venue: Helston Park
Referee: Daniel Mangin
Johnsonville were much improved against Wainuiomata last week, but still weren't good enough to break their duck.
MSP have won three on the trot and scored 21 tries in four games, showing improvement each week.
Kane Thompson is a strong presence for Johnsonville. MSP openside Jay Hawkins has been in strong form keeping a number of challengers for the seven jersey on the bench. Isaia Petelo plays his 100th match in the midfield for MSP.
Paremata-Plimmerton v Upper Hutt Rams
Venue: Ngatitoa Domain
Referee: Steve Newson
Paremata-Plimmerton have never won two matches in a Swindale Shield season, but could they topple winless Upper Hutt? Paremata-Plimmerton beat Johnsonville and didn’t disgrace themselves away to MSP.
The Rams accounted for Paremata-Plimmerton three times in 2017, but are struggling in 13th place with the worst defence in the competition.
Tyler Tane has been in good form for Upper Hutt and his clash with the bulky Evan Leali’ifano should be a highlight. Paremata-Plimmerton has the worst attack in the Swindale Shield, but if they can hold Upper Hutt’s attack in check there could be an upset here.
Tawa v Avalon Wolves
Venue: Lyndhurst Park
Referee: Jamie Fairmaid
Two losers in Round 4 with a 2-2 record in 2018. Tawa were thumped by Petone while Avalon let a golden chance of victory slip at the Polo Ground.
Both sides have huge forward backs so expect plenty of bruising collisions. No. 8 Daniel Sione-Leota has shown strong form for Avalon while Tawa need to find their abrasive best to reserve their forward slump. Expect the likes of Tolu Fahamokioa and Telea Seumanutafa to step up.
James So’oialo (Tawa) is the leading points scorer this season with 68. Second-five Ben Peni has been consistent for the Wolves.
Wellington v Poneke
Venue: Hataitai Park
Referee: Jordan Price
Poneke scored a stirring win against Norths last Saturday despite coaching dramas during the week. Wellington were embarrassed by Hutt Old Boys Marist and are in desperate need of a win.
Wellington actually produced an honest forward display against the Eagles with lock-blindside flanker Alex Dalzell officially named Man of the Match. His tussle with Poneke captain Cole Stewart will be one to keep an eye on. Isaia Walker-Leaware adds bulk to Poneke’s pack at lock.
Wellington will have to sustain their intensity and be precise for longer than they have been to win this home fixture for the Spud Lindsay Memorial Trophy.
Poneke also have a new coach, in 250 game stalwart Misipalauni Moananu, for the remainder of the 2018 season
Wainuiomata v Northern United
Venue: William Jones Park
Referee: Nick Hogan
Both sides finished strongly in their respective fixtures last weekend. Wainuiomata overran Johnsonville while Norths fell agonisingly short of Poneke. Who can carry on the momentum at William Jones Park in this game for the Alf Keating Memorial Trophy?
Wainuiomata knocked over OBU at home in Round 2
Both sides have been frustratingly inconsistent, but at their best are capable of high quality.
Peter Umaga-Jensen lines up at centre for Wainuiomata, who also welcome back centurion flanker Greg Lealofi to their bench. Two players to look out for Norths include Blues hooker Leni Apisai and Hurricanes flyhalf Jackson Garden-Bachop.
Old Boys University v Oriental-Rongotai
Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Colin Te Pohe
A really keen rivalry. In 2016, OBU won both games 25-24 and last year’s Jubilee Cup contest was a thriller with OBU eventually prevailing 39-26.
OBU have been in imperious form with the exception of a narrow loss to Wainuiomata. Ories are 2-2 and haven’t really found their groove, but past matches against the students brings out the best in the O-Tide.
Ories No.8 Luca Rees scored two tries last Saturday as did OBU flanker Sam Coventry. The loose forward battle will be compulsive viewing.
The Bill Brien Challenge Cup is on the line, while OBU haven’t lost at Nairnville Park for two years.
Lower Grade and Women’s rugby
Northern United and Marist St Pat’s are the two unbeaten teams after the opening four weekends of the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield.
Both play early season mid-table teams away from home in the fifth round, Northern United meeting Wainuiomata (one win, three losses) and MSP playing Johnsonville (two wins, two losses).
Remaining Premier Reserve fifth round matches, see match-ups between Petone and HOBM, Tawa and Avalon, Wellington and Poneke, Paremata-Plimmerton and the Upper Hutt Rams and OBU and Ories. All
Harper Lock Shield contests kick-off at 1.00pm.
Defending champions Petone kick off their Les Mills Paris Memorial Trophy Colts Division 1 in an early match on the Petone Rec against Hutt Old Boys Marist Green.
Perennial contenders Old Boys University Green start their campaign against Tawa at Redwood Park, who finished third in the first round last year.
The Upper Hutt Rams host last year’s first round runners-up Oriental-Rongotai at Maidstone Park and Northern United entertains Marist St Pat’s at Jerry Collins Stadium at 1.00pm.
There is also a full opening round of four JRD Cup Colts Division 2 matches scheduled.
In the First Grade Thompson Memorial Cup, Old Boys University and the Hutt Old Boys Marist Barbarians started their seasons on the field last weekend with bonus point wins.
As part of five scheduled second round games, OBU meet Poneke at Kilbirnie Park at 2.45pm and HOBM face Avalon at Fraser Park at 2.45pm.
The second round of three of the U85kg knockout competition gets underway on Saturday, with a full slate of six matches scheduled.
As was covered on this website earlier this week, the 2018 Women’s club rugby season gets underway this Saturday with a Gala Day at Ngatitoa Domain.
Eight of the nine teams will be in playing together, with home club Paremata-Plimmerton playing Hutt Old Boys Marist, Poneke playing Avalon, last year’s beaten finalists Old Boys University meeting Marist St Pat’s and Northern United and Northern United playing Petone.
Defending champions Oriental-Rongotai have the first round bye.
All Women’s matches kick-off at 11.30am.
President’s grade rugby also starts tomorrow, with 14 teams scheduled for opening round matches.