Lots of action at the Polo Ground as Oriental-Rongotai beat Marist St Pats
Where to begin?
It was another interesting and entertaining round of Swindale Shield club rugby, notable for a number of things. Not least Wainuiomata going to Kelburn Park and beating Old Boys-University, nor the struggle between Oriental-Rongotai and Marist St Pats at the Polo Ground.
Elsewhere, a big crowd at the Hutt Recreation Ground saw Petone beat Hutt Old Boys Marist in the McBain Shield clash, while a resurgent Northern United are up to second following their home win over the Upper Hutt Rams.
Warwick Small was our man at the Polo Ground and we'll kick this week's coverage off there.
ORIES 32 MSP 27
Oriental-Rongotai 32 (Aukuso Tuitama 2, Luke Taualupe, Alex Fidow tries; Adam Deck 3 con, 2 pen) Marist St Pats 27 (Valentine Meachen 2, Mike Buckley tries; Fa'atonu Fili 3 con, 2 pen). HT: 12-13.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Luke Taualupe (Ories No.8); 2 points: Valentine Meachen (MSP hooker); 1 point: Alex Fidow (Ories prop).
Yellow cards: Serge Hollis (Ories), Corey Lawrence (MSP)
Venue: Polo Ground
What happened: Oriental-Rongotai remained undefeated and at the top of the table after a match overshadowed by a bad leg injury to Marist St Pats lock Sean Bridge.
Playing with the wind, MSP had possession and territory from the get-go. It took its toll with Ories down a man and MSP scoring from the resulting play via Valentine Meachen.
Ories scrambled, however, and Aukuso Tuitama was the beneficiary of a Paulo Aukuso break to dot down. Within the try-scoring play, Bridge landed awkwardly and there was a long delay and then a change of playing field while he was attended to. Both sides had their chances after the restart but Ories took theirs to keep the game close at the break.
After some early penalties to begin the second half, Tuitama picked up a loose MSP pass to score and then Alex Fidow muscled over to seemingly seal victory for the home side. MSP weren't done, however, and, motivated by Fa'atonu Fili's 200th game for the club, scored two tries to set up a frantic final 10 minutes.
Ories clung on to claim a valuable victory.
The big play: Just before halftime, Ories were hot on attack and forced a penalty and the sin-binning of MSP flanker Corey Lawrence. They opted for a scrum and Luke Taualupe crashed over to give the home side momentum going into the second half.
Who stood out: Taualupe was powerful for the home side while Fidow's defence was a standout. Paulo Aukuso was always threatening with ball in hand. For MSP, Meachen led from the front, while Mike Buckley scored a superb individual try.
WAINUI 16 OBU 11
Wainuiomata 16 (Matt Jacobs, Erich Tuisila tries; Matt Jacobs 2 pen) Old Boys-University (Sam Reid try; Dale Sabbagh 2 pen). HT: 10-11.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Cameron Ross (Wainui lock); 2 points: Marino Makaele Tu'u (OBU No.8); 1 point: Teru Time (Wainui second five-eighth).
Yellow cards: Ben Tupuola (Wainui), Manahi Moana (OBU).
Venue: Kelburn Park.
What happened: An early Old Boys-University penalty, through second five-eighth Dale Sabbagh, opened the scoring.
Wainuiomata hit straight back, though, earning a scrum inside OBU's 22 and flanker and goalkicker Matt Jacobs mowed his way over the chalk moments later.
Wainui wing Erich Tuisila provided the hit-back to another OBU penalty goal shortly after, beating Tomasi Palu to the ball after a well-placed Frae Wilson box kick, scoring Wainui's second try in 10 minutes.
OBU replied before the end of the half, though it came in a moment of controversy as wing Sam Reid was taken high by Wainui No. 8 Ben Tupuola on his way over the line – Tupuola was duly yellow-carded.
OBU were soon down to 14 players themselves, thanks to a Manahi Moana infringement, although both teams failed to score against their depleted opposition.
A strong Wainui second half meant most of the period was played inside OBU territory, though much of the 40 minutes was marred by errors and scrum resets.
The slow pace of the game suited Wainui's tight play and their two second-half penalties saw them hold on for a vital win.
The big play: The high shot on Reid in the build-up to his try was without a doubt a yellow card infringement, though it was unclear whether Reid actually scored the try. The wing didn't seem overly convinced himself, while the subsequent conversion attempt went astray.
Had a penalty try been awarded instead - and OBU gained seven points from the play and not five - there may have been a slightly different approach to the second 40 minutes for both sides.
Who stood out: Cameron Ross was the recipient of one of the hits of the season by Morgan Poi, but not much else could stop the Wainui lock. He brought solidity to Wainui's very shaky lineout early on and made several strong carries. Replacement Jordan Sului was very impressive when he got on and Teru Time provided direct running and had some decisive touches.
Marino Makaele Tu'u was the main source of OBU's go-forward and was a real standout among the pack. Lock Sam Green caused much disruption at the front of the lineout.
PETONE 49 HOBM 31
Petone 49 (Losi Filipo 2, Jared Kahu, Logan Gibbons, Jack Ross, James Blackwell,Lester Maulolo tries; Carne Green 7 con) Hutt Old Boys Marist 31 (Brandyn Laursen, David Filipo, Joe Apikotoa, James O'Reilly tries; Sheridan Rangihuna 4 con, pen). HT: 21-17.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Lester Maulolo (Petone centre ); 2 points: Jack Ross (Petone lock); 1 point: David Filipo (HOBM lock).
Yellow card:Lise Soloa (HOBM)
Venue. Hutt Recreation Ground
What happened: Petone stunned Hutt Old Boys Marist early when Lester Maulolo regathered a neat little Jared Kahu grubber kick to score close to the posts.
Hutt struck back and levelled the scores with a try to lock David Filipo after a lengthy spell of possession. The home team then took the lead with a converted try to Brandon Laursen.
The see-saw nature of the match continued with a try to Petone prop Logan Gibbons followed quickly by a Sheridan Rangihuna penalty. Petone then took their turn to lead into halftime, when Losi Filipo scored the first of his two tries. Carne Green's sideline conversion gave them a handy four-point buffer to take into the second half.
Tries to Hurricanes lock James Blackwell and first-five Kahu stretched Petone's lead. HOBM then stormed back into the match, regaining the lead with back-to-back tries to Joe Apikitoa and James O'Reilly.
This signalled a step up in intensity from Petone and they finally saw off Hutt with tries in the last five minutes to Jack Ross and Filipo.
The big play: In a game as tight as this was - right up until the last five minutes - it's important to have all your players on the field. When Hutt lost Lise Soloa to the sin bin in the 75th minute, for back chat, Petone suddenly had the space to score two more tries and secure the win.
Who stood out: Lester Maulolo and Losi Filipo stood out among Petone's backs, with some fine skills and hard running. Forwards Mateaki Kafatolu, Bruce Kauika-Petersen and Jack Ross all had good games too.
The Eagles' locks, David Filipo and Jared Woodward, had strong games, as did flanker Jordan Gillies. Their backs were often stifled by good Petone defence, but big second-five Izzy Foai was able to break the line on a number of occasions. First-five Brandyn Laursen also played well.
NORTHS 47 UPPER HUTT 27
Northern United 47 (Esi Komaisaivai 2, Jordan Mellars-Rose 2, Johnwhite Silva, Takehiro Nakazawa, Liki
Siliaga, Johnny Teleaga, Ethan Robinson-Mate tries; Cameron Craig con) Upper Hutt Rams 27 (Joyner Key, Mitchell Markov, Vaughan Koou, Josh Hunt tries; Key 2 con, pen). HT: 10-3.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Parekura Lalaga (Norths flanker); 2 points: Perry Hayman (Norths second-five); 1 point: Mitchell Markov (Upper Hutt flanker);
What happened: Upper Hutt Rams staged an impressive comeback in the final 20 minutes, where they scored four consecutive tries to reduce Northern United's lead. However, the home side held their nerve and sealed the win with two late tries.
The first half was dominated by defence. Both teams ran hard, but handling errors put an end to promising attacking play. Norths were first to score, after reserve halfback Esi Komaisavai gathered a loose ball and showed pace to score.
They scored again when Ethan Robinson-Mate took an offload to crash over near the posts.
A late Upper Hutt penalty meant Norths led 10-3 at halftime.
The first part of the second half was all Norths.
Just as fans got back to their seats, Liki Siliga sprinted down the sideline to score. Siliga's try sparked a period of dominance for Norths, as their big ball-runners created havoc. Firstly, impressive second-five Perry Hayman skipped out of a tackle, before offloading to Jordan Mellars-Rose to score. A further try came after a big scrum allowed Johnny Teleaga to crash over the line.
The try of the game came shortly after when big No.8 Mike Ioapo smashed through the defence before offloading to Mellars-Rose, who flicked an inside ball to a charging Komaisavai who scored his second try.
The period of dominance was complete, when a Perry Hayman break led to Takehiro Nakazawa's try.
Upper Hutt seemed down and out, as Norths lead 35-3. But the last 20 belonged to the visitors, as they found big gaps in a tiring defence.
First, Josh Hunt stepped his way through the defence to score. Shortly after, wing Joyner Key scored after impressive build-up play.
The momentum continued, as Mitchell Markov and reserve prop Vaughan Koopu scored quick tries to threaten Norths' lead.
But the hosts kept their composure and another bullocking run from Hayman led to a second try to Mellars-Rose to secure the result.
Norths final try generated the biggest roar from the crowd, as big prop Johnwhite Silva regathered a grubber kick to score under the posts.
The big play: Late in the second-half, Hayman's linebreak led to a try to Mellars-Rose . This put a halt to Upper Hutt's momentum.
Who stood out: For Upper Hutt, Mitchell Markov was a constant threat on attack and powerful at the breakdown. Sio Luamanu was good with ball-in- hand and played a key role in his team's comeback. Daniel Schrijvers was busy in the tight.
For Norths, Mike Ioapo and Perry Hayman were powerful. Liki Siliga ran strongly out wide. However, it is hard to go past Parekura Lalaga blindside flanker who tackled hard and gave his side plenty of go-forward.
JVILLE 26 AVALON 17
Johnsonville 26 (Jacob Walmsley, Nick Murdoch, Marcus Ale, Tiwi Davies tries; Davies 3 con) Avalon 17 (Logan Blake, Dylan Reece, Falalo Wright tries; Cameron Cross con). HT: 19-7.
Best and fairest: 3 points Ben Peni (Avalon second-five); 2 points; Jacob Walmsley (Johnsonville right wing); 1 point; Levi Grace (Johnsonville fullback).
Yellow card: Thomas Kiwara (Avalon)
Red Cards: Kenning Barribal (Avalon), Siaosi Mafi (Johnsonville)
Venue: Helston Park
What happened: Avalon started strong and scored the first try, using the offload to great effect.
After an error-ridden first 30-minutes Johnsonville found some go-forward through the pin-point kicking of fullback Levi Grace.
Right wing Jacob Walmsley found some space and scored an exciting individual try, while the Johnsonville forward pack dominated the scrum and used the pick-and-go to score two more tries before the half.
Johnsonville continued their momentum, starting the second half with an individual try to Tiwi Davies.
Avalon made a late surge with two tries but came undone by their handling errors.
The big play: Avalon dominated the first 30 minutes but when ill-discipline saw right wing Kenning Barribal red-carded, Johnsonville capitalised, reversing the momentum and scoring 26 consecutive points.
Who stood out: Avalon second-five Ben Peni ran the ball well, breaking tackles with ease. After Avalon were reduced to 14, Johnsonville right wing Jacob Walmsley used his speed to exploit the space out wide. Johnsonville fullback Levi Grace was dangerous with the ball in hand and put his pin-point kicking game on display.
TAWA 18 PONEKE 15
Tawa 18 (Elijah Va'a-Brooking, Ben Lam tries; James So'oialo con, 2 pen) Poneke 15 (Michael Sage, Jarrod Bryan tries; Hilton Gibbons con, pen). HT: 7-15.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Hemi Fermanis (Tawa lock); 2 points: Jarrod Bryan (Poneke flanker); 1 point: Ben Lam (Tawa second five-eighth).
WGTN 22 PARE-PLIM 21
Wellington (Anthony Ellis 2, Izieh Montgomery tries; Callum Harkin 2 con, pen) Paremata-Plimmerton 21 (Blake Neve 2, Michael Martinez tries; Neve 3 con). HT: 14-14.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Anthony Ellis (Wellington prop); 2 points: Sam Gard'ner (Wellington No.8), 1 point: Liam Privet (Wellington flanker).