Jubilee/Hardham Cups semi-finals
HOBM 43 ORIES 26
Hutt Old Boys Marist 43 (Chase Tiatia 2, James O'Reilly, Jeremy Thrush, Glen Walters, Parataiso Silafai-Leaana, Dan McCool tries, Sheridan Rangihuna 4 Cons) Ories 26 (Ambrose Curtis, Matt Proctor, Tutasi Masoe, Paulo Aukuso tries, James Proctor 3 Cons). HT 31-0.
Best and fairest: 3 points: James O'Reilly (HOBM Hooker), 2 points: Fereti Soloa (HOBM Fullback), 1 Point: Pau Halafihi (Ories Flanker)
Venue: Hutt Rec
What happened: Top qualifiers Hutt Old Boys Marist booked themselves a Jubilee Cup finals spot after convincingly beating Ories in an entertaining match played in ideal conditions. It was a case of third time lucky for HOBM after being pipped by Ories twice in recent semi-final meetings.
After a build-up dominated by who might show for Ories, neither of the Savea brothers nor Ma'a Nonu suited up, while Hurricanes team-mate Motu Matu'u lasted only 23 minutes. By that stage the game was all but over with HOBM providing a clinic in playing territory rugby and scorching in for four tries to open up a 26-0 advantage. When Glen Walters waltzed through to score on half time, they were in full control at 31-0.
Ories were better in the second half and with the game opening up, their dangerous backline made their mark to score four consolation tries. It was too little too late however and HOBM took their limited opportunities nicely while taking the chance to empty their bench early and rest up for next week’s final.
Who stood out: NZ Under 20s hooker James O’Reilly was outstanding for HOBM with his work-rate on attack and defence remarkable. Locks Jeremy Thrush and Steven Bradshaw ensured a solid platform for their backline. Sheridan Rangihuna used this platform wisely while fullback Tomasi Alosio was classy at the back having a hand in numerous long range tries. For Ories, Pau Halafihi kept going until the end, while Paulo Aukuso - in what could be his last game for the club - showed he will be missed. Fittingly, he crashed over to score in the final play of the game.
The upshot: HOBM have been the best side in the Jubilee Cup and deserve to start favourites in what promises to be a memorable match-up versus near neighbours Wainuiomata. They have a nice mix of experience and youthful talent. A disappointing finish to the season for Ories. One wonders what effect this week’s player distractions had on the team.
- Warwick Small
WAINUIOMATA 26 MSP 13
Wainuiomata 26 (Fa'atau Mamea, Ben Tupuola, Tyler Tane 2 con, 3 pen) Marist St Pats 13 (Isaia Petelo try; Fa'atonu Fili 1 con, 2 pen) HT- 13-10.
Where: William Jones Park
Best & Fairest: 3 points- Ben Tupolua (Wainui 8), 2 points- Greg Lealofi (Wainui flanker) 1 point- Josh Robertson-Weepu (Wainui Fullback), Valentine Meachen (MSP flanker).
What happened: For the first time since 1946, Wainuiomata will contest the Jubilee Cup final after overpowering Marist St Pats 26-13 in the semi-final.
The power and mobility of the Wainuiomata forward pack combined with a precise second-half kicking game were the keys to the green and black's triumph.
The first half was a lively affair! Waniomouta opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Tyler Tane kicked a penalty after a long phase of attack, lasting maybe 20 phases, resulted in Shaun Eru being held up, only after MSP was caught offside.
Fa'atonu Fili responded right away for MSP when Waniomouta fumbled the kick-off, only to have Tane nudge Wainuiomata 6-3 ahead after 11 minutes.
The next 16 minutes were scoreless, but Waniomouta made most of the running as their big forwards tested the MSP defence. However, the visitors scored the first try, in the 28th minute, from a five-meter scrum. Second-five Isaia Petelo rushed over after Waniomouta was caught short of defenders out wide.
In the 32nd minute, Wainuiomata No 8 Ben Tupuola, followed by lock Glen Angus, stormed into the MSP half with a combined burst of 40 meters. From the next ruck the ball was lopped out to fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu who drew the last defender and put Fa'atau Mamea over for a try, 13-10 at halftime.
The second half belonged to Wanuiomata. Playing towards the southern end, the tactical kicking of First-Five John Monu (celebrating his 100th game) and Robertson-Weepu kept MSP caged in their own half. MSP was hassled into repeat mistakes, especially being caught too high in contact and surrendering the ball in mauls.
With about 15 minutes left and leading 16-13, Tupolua barged over in the corner. Tane nailed the conversion and Waniomouta was never going to be stopped, a 20-meter Robertson-Weepu drop goal put the icing on the cake.
Who stood out: Ben Tupolua and Greg Lealofi had barnstorming games. Their hunger for work, ability to break tackles and offload in contact caused MSP nightmares. Lock Glen Angus was a hive of activity and hooker Attila Va'a held up the scrum, found his lineout jumpers and carried strongly. Roberston-Weepu and Monu played assured games out wide in an excellent all-around performance. For MSP Petelo was the most threatening back and locks Nemani Waaka and Lua Lokatui and openside Valentine Meachen toiled gamely.
The upshot: Wainuiomata will the Jubilee Cup final. With a large, mobile and experienced pack and two wins already against Hutt Old Boys' Marist this season, they have a good chance of winning it as well.
- Adam Julian
PONEKE 18 WELLINGTON 8
Poneke 18 (Nathan Iro, James Solomon tries; Pakai Turia con, Edwin Ainley 2 pen) Wellington 8 (Jaco de Waal try; Hilton Mexted pen). HT: 6-3. Yellow cards: Vaea Fifita, Simon Shearer.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Sam Gard'ner (Wellington flanker), 2 points: Edwin Ainley (Poneke halfback), 1 point: James Solomon (Poneke wing).
Venue: Kilbirnie Park.
What happened: Poneke have booked themselves into the Hardham Cup final next weekend after a tense win over local rivals, Wellington Axemen.
Despite both teams' enthusiasm to throw the ball around the first half coughed up few points. Poneke's Edwin Ainley got the home side onto the scoreboard with two precise penalty kicks before Hilton Mexted put Wellington on the score-sheet.
The first half thrills and spills did not amount to any tries. However, the game was played at frenetic pace at times and plenty of counter-attack opportunities never eventuated into five points.
It was a titanic battle in the front row and the Axemen boasted a superior scrum, rolling Poneke on two occasions. They also dominated in the lineout with Sam Gard'ner pinching plenty of opposition ball in the air. Gard'ner was a standout in the set-piece all match.
Unfortunately for Wellington, the set-piece domination did not lead to many points and they trailed their opposites 6-3 at the break. Poneke looked to pull away with a try to No 8, Nathan Iro, yet failed to convert the conversion and
three successive penalties with the boot, 11 points gone begging.
This kept the Axemen in the hunt and gained some much-needed momentum through the likes of Dean Brunsdon and fresh reinforcements from the bench. The pressure mounted on Poneke and Wellington had their try through winger Jaco de Waal and trailed by three points with the hint of a comeback in the air.
Colossal winger James Solomon dashed those hopes with a blockbusting sideline run, beating two defenders and scoring under the posts to push the margin to 10 points with few minutes remaining.
Who stood out: It's hard to go past Sam Gard'ner, he kept Wellington in the match with his possession steals and was tireless on defence. Poneke's dynamic halfback Edwin Ainley had a brilliant first half and directed Poneke's forwards expertly. Ainley also added two crucial first-half penalties which set the tone for the home side. James Solomon's solo effort at the close of play was a matchwinner and is deservingly noted. An imposing figure with real pace on the wing is a great asset for the Poneke premiers.
The upshot: Wellington have made impressive strides after re-entering the club scene in 2014
and should only elevate their level in the coming years. Poneke have one match remaining against
Norths next weekend. They will look to avenge a 28-20 loss three weeks ago.
- Jack Biggs
NORTHS 34 AVALON 20
Norths 34 (Tries: Leni Apisai, Anthony Masina 2, Dudley Parsons, Konelio Feaunati Conversions: Jackson Garden-Bachop 3/4 Api Naikatini 0/1 Penalties: Jackson Garden-Bachop 1/1) Avalon 20 (Tries: Penalty Try, Karl Uilelea Conversion: Cameron Cross 2/2 Penalties: Cameron Cross 2/3 Peni Bulamaibau 0/2). HT: 24-10. Yellow Cards: Lance Mann (Norths) Adam Vardy (Norths).
Best and Fairest: 3 points Anthony Masina (Norths) 2 points Jackson Garden-Bachop (Norths) 1 point Karl Uilelea (Avalon).
Venue: Porirua Park
What happened: North played with attacking flare and it paid off with them taking the win over Avalon.
Norths came out not afraid to spread the ball wide and attack from the 22, and early on Avalon had no answer to this with the home side running in 3 tries in the first 30 minutes. Norths were reduced to 14 men when Lance Mann was sin binned and Avalon were able to use this 10 minutes with a extra man to eventually hit back with a penalty try.
Avalon played much better in the second half, forcing Norths to make a lot more tackles, but the home team's defence held strong. The Avalon fans were finally given something to cheer about when their boys scored and were in touching distance on Norths. But the boys from Porirua were too good on the day and scored a try which sealed Avalon's fate.
Who stood out: Anthony Masina (Norths) scored two tries and set another up with a Benji Marshall-like behind-the-back flick pass, he also made many more strong runs and was solid on defence. Jackson Garden-Bachop (Norths) made line breaks and set up a try and his kicking was on point. Karl Uilelea (Avalon) was energetic in the field all day and got Avalon back with a chance of winning.
- Zac Ringrose
The Dominion Post