MSP 16 WAINUIOMATA 13
Marist St Pats 16 (Ryan Setefano try; Fa'atonu Fili 1 con, 3 pen) Wainuiomata 13 (Glen Angus try; Tyler Tane 1 con, 2 pen). HT- 7-7.
Where: Evans Bay Park, Kilbirnie.
Best & Fairest: 3 points- Peter Sciascia (MSP halfback), 2 points- Nemani Waaka (MSP lock), 1 point- Greg Lealofi (Wainui flanker).
What happened: A solitary penalty was all that could separate these two strong clubs at Evans Bay on Saturday. In his 150th start, Fa'atonu Fili's boot proved the difference between the two sides, yet it didn't all go to plan. In wet and blustery conditions both sides failed to gain any ascendancy over the other as they traded penalties and knock-ons all afternoon.
Wainui started the more enterprising of the two packs. dominating in territory and possession, resulting in a much deserved try to lock Glen Angus who was a tireless worker all match. Early pressure turned into points as Angus propelled his way over the line after some well-organised pick-and-gos leaving the defence scrambling.
Both teams traded blows throughout the encounter as it was MSP's chance to turn possession into points for the play of the game. Midfield back, Isaia Petelo, ignited the play with a strong run down the sideline before linking up with his skipper Peter Sciascia with a beautiful offload, the halfback then saw an opportunity to chip the ball in-field the way of centre Ryan Setefano who dived on the ball, momentum seeing him slide over the chalk.
Unfortunately, from a spectator point of view, there was little attacking brilliance in the second 40 with greasy conditions dictating the affair. It was down to the goalkickers to decide their fate. Fa'atonu Fili, usually a reliable striker of the ball missed a few chances which would usually be easy pickings for the flyhalf, the weather proving the negator. Wainuiomata's goalkicker, Tyler Tane also missed a couple of chances, albeit from difficult areas of the park.
MSP looked to have the edge over Wainui in the closing stages despite Wainui clinging on to a 13-10 lead for much of the second half, frustrating the Marist support. Two late penalties from the veteran Fili ensured a much-needed victory for MSP.
Who stood out: Peter Sciascia possessed the smartest rugby brain out of the two teams. He played appropriate wet-weather rugby and linked well, while organising both forward and back factions. His clearing kicks also got MSP out of some tricky situations. Lock, Nemani Waaka, was a tireless performer in MSP's engine room and produced a sound lineout effort, despite the trying conditions.
Greg Lealofi was one of Wainui's best with both ball in hand and defence. Lealofi came up with plenty of attacking opportunities first-half before his defence became more prominent in the second. Off the bench, Josh Robertson-Weepu threatened to ignite a late win with a strong run down his wing before MSP neutralised this effort.
The upshot: MSP live to fight another day with one round remaining, yet the equation is simple, win next week against OBU at home and they could be a real chance for the semi-finals, many would back them to do so. Wainui are still in a strong position, despite producing back-to-back losses but will want to turn things around at home next week against the high-flying eagles from Hutt Old Boy's Marist who have cemented a top-two finish.
- Jack Biggs
OBU 18 PETONE 6
OLD BOYS UNIVERSITY 18 (Tim Smith, Te Wehi Wright tries, Hamish Buick 2 pen, 1 con) PETONE 6 (Carne Green 2 pen). HT 8-3.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Mathew O'Connor (OBU halfback), 2 points: Eugene Smith (Petone hooker), 1 point: Joe Beech (OBU lock).
Venue: Basin Reserve.
What happened: This was an even contest for most of the match with an OBU scoring burst midway through the second half separating the two teams. OBU opened the scoring through winger Tim Smith after Petone failed to clear the ball properly from a defensive scrum.
A penalty apiece completed the scoring for the first half, Petone closed the gap soon after the break with another Carne Green penalty.
The second half was meandering along with neither side dominating the other, that was until the sixty seventh minute when Hamish Buick kicked a penalty and from the restart Te Wehi Wright sliced open the visitors defensive line with a sweeping angled run. Buick's conversion finished the scoring for the day.
Who stood out: OBU halfback Mathew O'Connor was a standout, he outpaced the Petone players to deny them a try and it was his pressure that lead to his own team's first try. Fullback Jesse Johnson's positional play was very good in the conditions. Young lock Joe Beech seemed to be everywhere.
For Petone Hooker Eugene Smith toiled all day and flanker Jacob Gooch was never far from the ball.
The up-shot: OBU go to third on the points table and play fourth placed MSP in the last round, the winner of this match will play semi final rugby, a loss for either of these sides would likely see them leap frogged by others in a very tight competition. Petone are mathematically still in contention but you would need Einstein to work out how.
Next up: Petone v Ories Petone Rec. OBU v MSP Evans Bay.
- Doug Smith
HOBM 17 TAWA 16
Hutt Old Boys' Marist 17 (Chase Tiatia try; Glen Walters 4 pen) Tawa 16 (Tu Umaga-Marshall try; James So'oialo 3 pen, 1 con) HT: 6-13.
Where: Hutt Rec
Best & fairest: 3 points- Jason Risdon (HOBM Openside), 2 points- Pati Gaualofa (Tawa Lock), 1 point- Chase Tiatia (HOBM Wing), Evan Gwilliam (HOBM blindside).
What happened: Hutt Old Boys' Marist earned a home semi-final after defeating Tawa with the last play of the game. Tawa was forced to ground in-goal when a kick found space and a stampede of rushing Marist defenders. From the five-meter scrum winger Chase Tiatia found room on the blindside and scored his 14th try of the season, despite the scoreboard clock showing 84:20. It was out of sync, and the players
fortunately knew it.
The contest was a battle of attrition between two evenly matched packs. Despite playing into the wind Hutt had the better of territory in the first 20 minutes, but missed two penalty shots. Tawa led 13-6 at halftime after James So'oialo showed his class in the 30th minute when he kicked wide and precisely for Tu Umaga-Marshall. In the 45th minute Hutt lost Lise Soloa to the sinbin, but desperate defence held Tawa out.
Walters kicked two penalties to make it 13-12 and then with about 15 minutes to go Tawa lost Taniela Koroi to the sinbin. However the Tawa forwards doggedly monopolised possession until one mistake, one kick and Tiatia's swift feet cost them the game.
The upshot: 44 out of 90 games this season have been decided by seven points or less which means the defending champions Tawa still have a chance of reaching the semi-finals. Hutt are guaranteed top qualifiers and may rest players next week to keep them fresh for the semi-finals.
- Adam Julian
ORIENTAL-RONGOTAI 40 UPPER HUTT RAMS 10
Ories 40 (Lucky Tuiatua 2, Ambrose Curtis 2, Ardie Savea, Peter Fa'atau tries, James Proctor 5 Cons) Upper Hutt Rams 10 (Jason Henry Try, Ben Aoina Con, Pen) HT 14-10. Yellow cards - Jamie Norman (65'), Anaru Rangi (67').
Best and fairest: 3 points: Pau Halafihi (Ories Flanker), 2 points: Liam Hallam-Eames (Ories Lock), 1 Point: Jordon Simpson-Hefft (Upper Hutt Fullback).
Venue: Polo Ground
What happened: Ories kept their Jubilee Cup play-off hopes alive with a deceptively tough victory over Upper Hutt
Rams. With their Hurricane stars available for 40 minutes apiece, Ories made hard work of the victory with Upper Hutt proving difficult to break down until late in the game.
In difficult conditions, Upper Hutt started positively but without reward. Ories slowly gained territorial ascendency and when Ambrose Curtis went over untouched for their second try; they had built a handy advantage. Upper Hutt responded however when second five-eighth Jason Henry waltzed past numerous defenders to score and limit the deficit at half time.
Ories injected Ardie Savea and Motu Matu'u for the second half but were guilty of playing too much rugby in their own half, giving Upper Hutt a sniff of victory. The home side settled however, kicked for territory, and when Lucky Tuiatua barged over for the bonus point try, the game was won. They added late tries to pad the winning margin out.
Who stood out: While Savea, Matu'u and Matt Proctor provided the star factor, Pau Halafihi was a standout for
Ories, carrying strongly and a presence at the ruck. Liam Hallam-Eames also got around the park well. For Upper Hutt, Jordon Simpson-Hefft showed nice touches in difficult conditions, Jason Henry scored a fine individual try and you can't fault the forward packs effort.
The upshot: Ories did what they needed to do in tricky conditions and with their stars back are well placed for a
play-off spot. A gutsy effort from Upper Hutt in keeping it close until the final stages, but they now have a battle to make the semis. Next up: Ories vs. Petone at Petone Rec and Upper Hutt vs. Tawa at Maidstone Park.
- Warwick Small
HARDHAM CUP FEATURE MATCH
AVALON 20 PAREMATA-PLIMMERTON 9
Avalon 20 (Ben Peni, Cameron Cross, Shannon Bradbrook tries; Cross 1 con 1 pen) Paremata-Plimmerton 9 (Blake Neve 3 pen). HT 15-9. Yellow cards: Jesse Oloapu (Avalon 2nd five-eighth), Terry Grundy (Paremata-Plimmerton reserve forward), Shannon Bradbrook (Avalon reserve 1st five-eighth).
Venue: Fraser Park
Best and fairest: 3 points: Logan Blake (Avalon openside flanker) 2 points: Cameron Cross (Avalon 1st five-eighth) 1 point: Lyon Pretorius (Avalon hooker).
What happened: Paremata-Plimmerton took advantage of Avalon's ill-disciplined play and took an early 6-0 lead in Saturday's match.
All of Paremata-Plimmerton's points came from penalties given away by Avalon inside their own half. Despite taking an early lead Paremata-Plimmerton struggled on attack for much of the first half meaning they became too reliant on securing kickable penalties.
This came back to haunt them as Avalon adopted a more disciplined approach and showed their immense attacking ability, leading to two first half tries.
Avalon's forwards were particularly impressive. Their runners off the ruck ran effective lines and their pick-and-go game was well organised.
The second half saw Paremata-Plimmerton go to their backs more often. This worked well early on as the visitors exposed Avalon's defence out wide. Ultimately Paremata-Plimmerton's finishing left something to be desired and they were unable to score a try.
Avalon repelled Paremata-Plimerton's improved attack and eventually took control of the second half, managing to score off some well-executed back play.
Avalon's impressive maul featured heavily in the game. Well-organised lineout drives saw their forwards rumble well up the field on a number of occasions.
Who stood out: Logan Blake made some textbook tackles and was busy at ruck time. He may not be the biggest openside in the competition but he is an impressive competitor. Cameron Cross was a smooth operator at 1st five and did a very good job steering his side around the field. Hooker Lyon Pretorius was into everything.
Around the grounds: Avalon's win mean they sit second in the Hardham Cup while Paremata-Plimmerton are sixth. Northern United, Poneke and Wellington were the other winners on Saturday. Norths now have a two point buffer at the top of the table after beating fifth-placed Johnsonville 31-5. Poneke are second after dispatching OBU B 28-0. OBU sit joint last. Wellington thrashed MSP B 70-0, meaning the Axemen remain in third. MSP join OBU at the bottom of the table.
- The Dominion Post
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