Thirteen rounds and 91 matches of Swindale Shield rugby will likely come down to two, perhaps three matches in tomorrow’s deciding round.
Heading into the deciding last round, Northern United and Old Boys University are both on 50 points and Hutt Old Boys Marist on 49. Should you be interested the tie breaker process is available.
Similarly, Petone needs just a point to qualify in seventh for the championship round starting next week, while Oriental-Rongotai needs a bonus point win and for Petone to get nothing.
The Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield will be decided tomorrow too, with frontrunners Marist St Pat’s and Northern United meeting in a ‘virtual final’ in the early match on Jerry Collins Stadium.
At Porirua Park, Northern United can clinch the first round Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy with next week’s final round to spare if they beat Paremata-Plimmerton. Elsewhere, OBU flanker Gina Williamson plays her 100th game for her side against Oriental-Rongotai.
The Les Mills Colts competition has a week off, before the start of the second rounds, while the Avalon Wolves can make it six straight bonus-point wins to start the U85kg season when they play winless Hutt Old Boys Marist and the OBU Pink Ginners and Paremata-Plimmerton side are both going for their fourth consecutive wins in the First Grade Mike Copeland Trophy. The Pink Ginners play the Wests Roosters Mixed Veges and Pare-Plim meets the OBU Teddy Bears.
There have already been two competition games during the week, brought forward from Saturday, with the Petone Ponies defeating Marist St Pat’s 74-17 in the women’s competition and the Wellington Axemen beating the Upper Hutt Rams 49-47 in their Swindale Shield match.
A last play try to fullback Matt Day and an angled conversion by Te Raina Richards-Coxhead earned Wellington their win. Down 40-42, the Rams reclaimed the lead with two minutes remaining when hooker Eli Hunt rumbled over from close range.
It’s also Old Timers’ Days at Johnsonville and at Northern United tomorrow. Johnsonville are holding a reunion of their 1998 Swindale Shield winning team, while Norths are doing likewise for their 2008 Jubilee Cup co-winning side.
A look at the six Swindale Shield matches being played tomorrow is below.
Northern United v Marist St Pat’s
Venue: Jerry Collins Stadium
Referee: Jamie Fairmaid
With a bonus point victory Norths will win the Swindale Shield for the first time since 2011 regardless of what happens at other venues
Norths won their eighth match in a row last Saturday, toppling OBU 50-45. Norths have scored 65 tries in 2018, but will be missing hat-trick hero Esi Komaisavai whose out for at least six weeks after injury against the BillyGoats.
Despite missing Komaisavai, Norths boast plenty of threats. The inform combination of Jackson Garden-Bachop and Kienan Higgins are blooming behind a consistent and growing forward pack.
MSP are 8-4 and have scored 59 tries. Isaia Petelo scored two tries against Ories last Saturday while young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi will look to dispute the Norths lineout.
The inaugural Maurice Standish Cup is a stake. The new trophy is named after the former MSP Jubilee Cup winner and Titahi Bay representative.
Old Boys University v Petone
Venue: Nairnville Park
Referee: Steve Newson
OBU are seeking to become the first team since MSP in 1996 to win the Swindale Shield three times in a row. Petone needs a solitary point to avoid the prospect of dropping to the Hardham Cup.
Both teams play expansively. OBU have scored 70 tries, Petone 65.
Tupou Sopoaga and Teariki Ben-Nicholas are two of the better No.8’s in the competition and will be central to their teams getting go forward. Will Mangos is on fire for the Goats, but Paddy Carter is missing for OBU.
Petone are seventh having beaten six of the seven clubs beneath them.
Hutt Old Boys Marist v Wainuiomata
Venue: Hutt Rec
Referee: Mike Fraser
Hutt Old Boys Marist probably need five points to keep alive their hopes of winning the Swindale Shield, but that won’t be easy against Wainuiomata who have lost seven games by less than 10 points.
Hutt have scored 59 tries in 2018 and last week put 40 points on Johnsonville in the first-half.
Lise Soloa marking Greg Lealofi at No.8 is a battle to watch while Chase Tiatia scored a try in his comeback for the Eagles last Saturday and starts at fullback. HOBM are also missing Sheridan Rangihuna for tomorrow’s game.
A local derby always keenly contested, HOBM will play with plenty of ambition which could lead to a high scoring affair.
Johnsonville v Oriental-Rongotai
Venue: Helston Park
Referee: Jordan Price
Old Timers’ day at Helston Park sees a reunion of the 1998 Johnsonville team who won the Swindale Shield. Can this inspire the hosts to break their duck?
It’s unlikely against an Ories side who needs five points and a Petone loss (without a bonus point) to claim their place in the Jubilee Cup.
Johnsonville won the second-half against HOBM, but Ories produced a season’s best effort in defeating MSP at Evans Bay Park. Malo Tuitama and Luca Rees scored two tries each. Rees has a competition leading 13.
Ories were ravaged by injuries in the early rounds. They are a different side now, but have they left their run too late?
This is for the Ash Pointon Memorial Cup, after the former leading rugby and softball identity who passed away last year.
Tawa v Paremata-Plimmerton
Venue: Lyndhurst Park
Referee: Colin Te Pohe
Tawa have won five of their last six matches and seven days ago thrashed Upper Hutt 55-24.
Telea Seumanutafa (3), Tavita Logovae (2) and Elijah Vaa Brooking (2) were among the try scorers.
Paremata-Plimmerton were typically hearty against Avalon scoring four tries with all three loose forwards James Hansen, Shane Hedges and Peni Taupau crossing the chalk.
Paremata-Plimmerton will challenge Tawa in the forwards, but the 2016 Jubilee Cup champions should have too much firepower. Sitiveni Paongo and Tolu Fahamokioa return to the pack after being rested with inform prop James Coburn having the week off. Fahamokioa will captain the team for the first time
Avalon v Poneke
Venue: Fraser Park
Referee: Mike Pinfold
Poneke confirmed their place in the Jubilee Cup with a fine win over Petone last Saturday. Hurricanes lock Isaia Walker-Leaware was welcomed back from injury as the forwards scored half of the host’s six tries.
Avalon celebrated Old Timers’ Day with a 37-25 victory over Paremata-Plimmerton, Chris Aumua and Pita Ekevati dotted down twice each for the Wolves.
Two big packs will ensure plenty of heavy contact, but Poneke with their experienced and athletic loose forwards should be smart enough to collect their ninth victory of the season.