TAWA 50 HOBM 14
Tawa 50 (TJ Fermanis 2, Tito Ioane, Randall Bishop, Alfred Pelenise, Kalim Kelemeti tries; James So'oialo 4 pen; 4 con) beat Hutt Old Boys Marist 14 (Wayne Aquila, Chase Tiatia tries; Glen Walters 2 con). HT: 13-0
Venue: Lyndhurst Park, Tawa
Yellow cards: Pati Gaualofa (Tawa), Steven Bradshaw (HOBM), Enoka Fonoti (HOBM)
Best and fairest: 3 Points Filisione Koloamatangi (Tawa blindside flanker), 2 points Sam Blair (Tawa No. 8), 1 point TJ Fermanis (Tawa openside flanker)
What happened: Superior physicality and oodles of confidence. It's a dangerous combination for any opposition to handle, and Tawa showed both in picking up from where they left off last August and steamrolling their way to an emphatic six tries to two win in an exciting season opener. It took the defending champions 35 minutes to stamp themselves on the match, withstanding pressure from HOBM inside their own half and then scoring three tries either side of halftime and racing to a 23-0 lead. HOBM brought on fresh legs and replied with two converted tries to close to 23-14 and it was game on. However, Tawa stepped it up another notch, first five-eighth James So'oialo edging them back ahead with two penalties and then scoring a further three tries in a blowout.
Who stood out: A high quality match between two willing teams, the battle of the breakdown in particular a highlight. Tawa No. 8 Sam Blair was big on defence, Tawa flanker TJ Fermanis was always in support, scoring a brace, and Tawa blindside flanker Filisone Koloamatangi dominated the aerial battle and won several key moments. For HOBM, new first five-eighth Chase Tiatia was sharp on attack and No. 8 James Wall had a busy first half.
The upshot: Tawa will take some beating this year, particularly at home. Teams know what to expect from them now, but can they stay with them? Hutt Old Boys Marist are a good all-round side and they will win most first round games from here playing their brand of positive rugby.
- Steven White
JOHNSONVILLE 10 PONEKE 15
Johnsonville 10 (F Tawhiwhirangi try, Andrew Newson con, Thomas Donaldson pen) Poneke 15 (Mike Cody 4 pen, Pakai Turia pen). HT: 12-3 to Poneke
Venue: Helston Park, Johsonville.
Yellow cards: Mao Apolo 55' (Johnsonville hooker) Joseph Scheres 63' (Poneke openside) F Tawhiwhirangi (Johnsonville replacement halfback). Red cards: None.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Galu Taufale (Poneke loosie), 2 points: Jack Talapapa (J'ville halfback), 1 point: Conor Maddix-Wikaera (Poneke hooker).
What happened: In a patchy first round hit out, each squad will be looking at silver linings with Poneke sliding home thanks to the steady boot of Mike Cody as well as introducing eight debutants and Johnsonville earning a bonus point in their first round loss and the only try of the game.
Johnsonville Coach Mason Lawrence has a lot of positives to work with. His halfback Jack Talapapa was industrious and kept the defence line honest in the first half with four red zone entries before the ball was lost to player turnover in the first 20 minutes. Handling errors aside, breaches were made and in time with patience and discipline will convert to points. In direct comparison it took 25 minutes to get a red and black boot inside the opposition 22 and that was with the wind. Territory matters less if you've got a radar boot who can kick penalties from halfway.
Grinding out wins and holding onto the ball are noted characteristics of Poneke forward play and it was no different again today. The first 20 minutes of the 2nd half was all Poneke and it demanded exceptional individual brilliance when Johnsonville finally got the pill.
Who stood out: Returning loosie and new Poneke Captain Galu Taufale dominated from the front with crunching tackles while his workhorse volume of ruck and play positioning in tandem with openside Joseph Schere was beautiful to watch. More game time for Johnsonville's Jack Talapapa will reap plenty of points as he injects more of himself into phase play. Got to give credit to Corey Lawrence who played halfback, loosie and even threw in a line out ball during the same match. Poneke's cup runneth over with hard running hookers and with current All Black and Hurricanes Dane Coles standing sideline, it was a shining moment for young Conor Maddix-Wikaera to show off his wares.
The upshot: Poneke will take the win but will face a HOBM team who'll want to get their season back on track after their no bonus point loss to Tawa. Johnsonville will have home ground advantage again and I'd say a bit of confidence when they face Northern United.
- Florence Masoe
UPPER HUTT RAMS 22 OLD BOYS UNIVERSITY 8
Upper Hutt 22 (Jordan Simpson-Hefft, Max Pearson tries, Liam Berry 4 pen) Old Boys University 8 (Matthew O'Connor try, Jesse Johnson pen). HT: 11-8
Venue: Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt.
Yellow cards: Calem Sua (UH) 75 mins. Red cards: None
Best and fairest: 3 points: Murphy Taramai (UH Blindside), 2 points: Jordan Simpson-Hefft (UH
Fullback), 1 point: Matthew O'Connor (OBU Halfback).
What happened: The Upper Hutt Rams produced a resounding upset win over OBU, 22-8, at Maidstone. Former clubs
Upper Hutt and Rimutaka, combined beautifully to win tough on their home patch in front of the adoring hometown support. OBU halfback, Matthew O'Connor was dangerous in the first half and produced the first try of the match off the back of OBU's superior scrum. Both sides exchanged early blows but it was Upper Hutt who went into the break leading 11-8 after Jordan Simpson-Hefft produced a try of his own.
UH's Liam Berry suffocated OBU out of the game with a goal-kicking master-class amassing four penalties. Winger, Max Pearson, sealed the win with a try against the run of play for an historic win for the newly-formed club. It wasn't always pretty but UH won tough.
Who stood out: Murphy Taramai was the busiest man on the field all game and made his presence felt on both attack and defence. He produced some damaging runs and at times left the OBU defence scrambling. His tireless 80-minute effort was a sight to behold. Jordan Simpson-Hefft was a safe custodian at the back for UH. He kicked well, chased well and was the glue that held the attack together. OBU's Matthew O'Connor was spritely in the first half and looked the goods behind a strong set-piece.
The upshot: The UH Rams have started exceedingly well in the opening round and their resilience was unquestionable. They will be a force in premier rugby this season. OBU had plenty of chances and looked good in patches but execution was a real issue in the early days of the Swindale Shield.
- Jack Biggs
ORIENTAL RONGOTAI 13 WAINUIOMATA 13
Oriental Rongotai 13 (Jarrod Henry, Matt Proctor tries; James Proctor pen) Wainuiomata 13
(Fa'atau Mamea try; John Monu pen, con, Tyler Tane pen). HT: 0-10.
Venue: Polo Ground, Miramar.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Whetu Henry (Ories prop), 2 points: Paulo Aukuso (Ories centre),
1 point Shahn Eru.
What happened: Swirling wind dominated the game with Ories' kick-off going out on the full, but two missed penalties from Wainuiomata and a missed penalty and conversion from Ories told the real story. Wainuiomata dominated field position early on, but handling errors in crucial situations let them down. Ories found it hard to get out of their half but turned it around in the second. With Ories being down by ten at the half, the game looked one-sided.
The second half turned around late for Ories with some great passing after a succession of messy turnovers. Wainuiomata failed to make their early possessions count and Ories took advantage late in the game, pulling back to a draw.
Who stood out: Ories powerhouse Whetu Henry had a sterling game at prop and he pulled his
team together to shift momentum late in the game with a handful of big shunts in the scrum.
Matt Proctor and Motu Matu'u were introduced in the second half for Ories and their impact
was evident, with Proctor picking up a try in the corner. John Monu's two early penalty
misses for Wainuiomata proved costly in the end.
Yellow cards: Ben Luiana 38'
The upshot: Ories find themselves in sixth place, with Wainuiomata also in sixth with the draw. Both teams will need to look at their tough forward packs more this season.
Next up: Oriental Rongotai play Wellington at the Polo Ground. Wainuiomata play Tawa at
- Simon Dennis
PETONE 28 WELLINGTON 8
Petone 28 (R Lepupa, N Grigg, M Kafatolu tries. C Green 2 cons and 3 pens) Wellington 8 (Tony Smith try, Nick Butterworth 1 con). HT: 9-3.
Best and fairest: 3 points: Matekai Kafatolu (Petone open side), 2 points: Ta'amilo Vaa (Petone lock), 1 point: Terry Soli (Wellington open side).
Venue: Hataitai Park, Wellington
What happened: Petone opened the new season with an error-ridden win over Wellington. The first half was
a turgid struggle as both teams struggled with handling, a stiff breeze and a referee quick to punish breakdown infringements.
Carne Green kicked three first-half penalties for Petone, Nic Butterworth one for Wellington.
The second-half started with a flurry of action. Petone's bench provided impact and reserve flanker Rolani Lepupa crashed over for a converted try to make it 16-3.
Wellington winger Tony Smith pounced on a loose pass to make it 16-8, before Petone took control.
A strong effort by a hard-working loose forward trio and improved efforts by the backs, as the game progressed, saw two tries scored and a comfortable victory achieved.
Who stood out: Petone captain Matekai Kafatolu made a series of barnstorming charges in the second-half and this complemented a solid all-round effort from the loose forwards.
Petone locks Eduan Struwing and Ta'amilo Vaa pilfered plenty of lineout ball and were full of bustle.
For Wellington, openside Terry Soli toiled hard in a disappointing all round effort.
Yellow cards: Adam Stewart 60'
The up-shot: One of the youngest Petone teams in years starts with a win and can only get better. The same logic applies to Wellington whose forward effort was honest enough to suggest they should win same games this season.
Wellington played their first game against Petone in 4368 days.
- Adam Julian
MARIST ST PAT'S 25 NORTHERN UNITED 14
Marist St Pats 25 (I Petelo, P Haini, R Setefano tries. A Blake 2 cons and 2 pens) Northern United 14 (G Hasegawa try. P Hayman 3 pens).
- The Dominion Post
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