Reviews and results of the club rugby action from around the country.
A controlled and largely accurate display by Grammar TEC saw them safely through to the Gallaher Shield semifinals in dispatching College Rifles 26-0 at Orakei Domain.
In wet conditions, the home team gradually built on a 16-0 halftime advantage to comfortably clinch their quarter-final. The boot of halfback Jono Hickey was decisive, landing six from nine for 16 points and working the corners.
Hooker Andrew Makalio crossed after just seven minutes following a fine build-up. He sold a dummy to dive over for the five-pointer. Makalio led the way with an energetic display, though he is not keen on passing the ball too often. Supporting him in the Grammar TEC pack were players like prop Tom McHugh, and locks Scott Scrafton, the skipper, and Taleni Seu.
College Rifles were typically industrious in the forwards, where men like openside Jeremy Innes, No 8 Hayden Edwards, and lock Russell Dobbie rolled their sleeves up. Orene Ai'i jinked and jived at No 10, but there was a lack of accuracy and firepower further out.
Rifles did have a heap of possession in the first spell and defended well, but they could not press home their weight of ball. When Grammar TEC wing Sitiveni Ramatalei was sinbinned for a reflex action high tackle, Rifles could not rally and post points, and then replacement wing Kitione Taimani put the nail in the coffin with a try off superb attacking work by midfielders Eddie Uele and Louis Maxwell.
The other three quarter-finals all went according to seedings, but not without real struggles for the victors.
Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy winners University were expected to wipe the mat with Manukau Rovers at home, but the inclement weather was a great leveller, centre Stacey Ili scoring two tries to keep the final margin close after Varsity's tries to hooker Kurt Eklund and wing Lachlan Cooper.
Waitemata suffered the agony of watching a last-second, long range penalty goal by wing Karl Siemsen fall short, allowing the defending champs Pakuranga to scrape through 16-15, Captain and lock Kirk Eveleigh scored the match's only try, while Siemsen slotted five penalty goals to keep the pressure on.
Ponsonby had to work hard to subdue the combative Papatoetoe side 18-5, Pryor Collier continuing his tryscoring, while his opposite Ed Fidow crossed for his 20th to lead all tryscorers in the competition.
In the Portola Trophy playoffs, Marist inflicted a 55-0 defeat on Waitakere City, while Eden (26-13 over Maungarua) and Otahuhu (34-13 over East Tamaki) enjoyed wins.
This Saturday's Gallaher Shield semis see University hosting Ponsonby and Grammar TEC hosting Pakuranga. Both games kick off at 2.45pm.
University 18 Manukau 12
Grammar TEC 26 College Rifles 0
Pakuranga 16 Waitemata 15
Ponsonby 18 Papatoetoe 5
Marist 55 Waitakere City 0
Eden 26 Maungarua 13
Otahuhu 34 East Tamaki 10
Massey, last year's champions and the dominant side for most of this season, became the top qualifiers for next weekend's North Harbour premier rugby semi-finals with a 36-8 win on Saturday over East Coast Bays.
That placed Massey two points clear of North Shore on the qualifying ladder, with Shore almost conceding second qualifying position when they battled hard at home to just survive 19-17 over Silverdale.
Shore trailed 17-14, going into the last minute but were saved when veteran first five-eighths Willie Walker placed a near perfect cross-kick for Tim Blundell to score in the corner.
Massey will meet Silverdale in the semi-finals while Shore will clash with Western Pioneers.
On their performances on Saturday, though, both Western the third qualifiers, and Silverdale, the fourth, will both provide spirited opposition against the two top sides.
Silverdale's pack impressed with its mauling play against Shore. And Western, despite spelling some key players, were far too strong for a half-hearted Takapuna, winning 43-13. Lively wing Ritchie Ah Chong had a field day for Western scoring four tries.
Northcote emerged as the second top side, behind Takapuna, for the plate semi-finals by comfortably beating bottom side Glenfield 38-12.
Northcote 38 Glenfield 12
Massey 36 East Coast Bays 8
Western Pioneers 43 Takapuna 13
North Shore 19 Silverdale 17
At the completion of the round robin play, the top four teams ended up having a break on the rest of the chasing pack. While Karaka finished in clear top spot, 15 points in front of second spot Bombay, the remaining top four teams were considerably closer.
Bombay nudged themselves into second spot by a single point by beating Patumahoe which will result in a replay of the game in one semi-final at Bombay. In the other semi-final, Karaka will meet the inform Waiuku at Karaka. While Karaka had a successful round robin dropping only two games in the 18 rounds, both of their losses were at the hands of Waiuku.
In a must win game for Bombay to secure a home semi-final, Bombay managed to secure a tight 21-14 victory over Patumahoe. Scoring early in the match, Bombay headed out to an early lead before Patumahoe fought their way back in front. Bombay finished the stronger of the two teams taking the victory and the all-important home advantage for next week.
Pukekohe were relying on results going their way and a victory against Ardmore Marist to sneak into the play offs. In the end, neither result went their way going down in a tight battle against Ardmore Marist 17-16. Ardmore Marist started the game strongly running out to a 17-3 advantage. Pukekohe slowly fought their way back into the game and had the chance to win in the final minutes, but poor handling let them down blowing a four on one opportunity to score the winning try. Pukekohe wing Sione Fifita scored all his teams points.
Waiuku continued their impressive form this season running away with a 30-7 victory over Manurewa. Dropping only one game in the second round, Waiuku have hit form at the right time of the season and will be tuff opposition for Karaka. Their victory included 5 tries with Joe Dawson scoring a double.
Karaka finished the round robin with a 29-16 victory over Onewhero. In a season that started well for Onewhero, they will be disappointed they couldn't kick on finishing sixth on the points table.
Ardmore-Marist 17 Pukekohe 16
Karaka 29 Onewhero 16
Bombay 21 Patumahoe 14
Waiuku 30 Manurewa 7
Te Aroha College Old Boys and Thames will contest next weekend's championship final. Unbeaten all season, the Cobras secured their spot with another good win, this week beating Waihou 41-15. Thames took a longer road to secure a final's berth. Thames and opponents Hauraki North were locked at 10-all after full time, with no change to that scoreline after periods of extra time. So, Thames proceeded through to next weekend's final on a countback, as victors on the previous occasion when the teams last played during the season.
Te Aroha COBRAS 41 Waihou 15
Hauraki North 18 Thames 18
(Thames beat Hauraki North after extra time)
Otorohanga, University, Hamilton Old Boys and Hamilton Marist are the four sides to contest the Waikato Breweries Shield championship playoffs, commencing next weekend. All four sides had wins on Saturday in the final round of pool play. Torrential rain across the Waikato region made for very difficult playing conditions. Otorohanga scraped fome 7-6 against their Te Awamutu Sports visitors and University battled to a 26-19 win over Hamilton Old Boys at Fred Jones Park. Hamilton Marist wing Leigh Bristowe scored six of his team's fourteen tries in an 82-0 romp against Te Rapa. In the other matches, Fraser Tech won 5-3 at Hautapu and Morrinsville Sports finished the round strongly with a 31-5 home win over Melville.
Otorohanga 7 Te Awamutu Sports 6
University 26 Hamilton Old Boys 19
Hamilton Marist 82 Te Rapa 0
Morrinsville Sports 31 Melville 5
Fraser Tech 5 Hautapu 3
Bay of Plenty
Whakarewarewa 7 Mount Maunganui 3
Te Puke Sports 43 Rangiuru 3
Tauranga Sports 16 Greerton Marist 5
Rangataua 21 Opotiki 17
Te Puna 50 Rotoiti 14
Mid Northern 47 Hikurangi 24
Mid-Western 34 Kamo 17
Old Boys-Marist 28 Western Sharks 12
Hora Hora 18 Otamatea 8
Wellsford 26 Waipu 19
Waitete 13 Taumarunui Eels 9
Taupo Sports 23 Pio Pio 3
Taumarunui Districts 23 Taupo United 6
Waitomo 28 Tongariro 0
Inglewood 20 NPOB 15
Coastal 30 Clifton 8
Pirates 41 Kaierau 14
Border 65 Marist 14
Ratana 24 Marton 20
Taihape 14 Utiku Old Boys 10
College Old Boys 29 Old Boys-Marist 3
Kia Toa 19 Varsity 16
Feilding 16 Linton Army 13
Eketahuna 48 Marist 21
Greytown 31 Pioneer 20
East Coast 24 Carterton 22
Gladstone 16 Martinborough 8
Paraparaumu 32 Levin College Old Boys 0
Shannon 56 Levin Wanderers 3
Levin Athletic 18 Waikanae 17
Marist-St Pat's 16 Wainuiomata 13
Oriental-Rongotai 40 Upper Hutt Rams 10
Hutt Old Boys-Marist 17 Tawa 16
Old Boys-University 18 Petone 6
Waimea 15 Marist 3
Wanderers 33 Kahurangi 9
Moutere 32 Renwick 20
Kaikoura 37 Harlequins 0
Old Boys 21 Reefton 13
White Star 11 Ngakawau 5
Kiwi 27 Marist 19
Grey Valley 14 Blaketown 0
Christchurch 29 Marist-Albion 5
Lincoln University 51 HSOB 6
New Brighton 15 Sydenham 8
Burnside 22 Sumner 12
Shirley 45 Belfast 10
Linwood 33 University 5
Celtic 28 Rakaia 24
Southern 19 Hampstead 10
Celtic 31 Mackenzie 24
Old Boys 31 Geraldine 19
Pleasant Point 37 Temuka 21
Harlequins 9 Waimate 5
Old Boys 42 Excelsior 10
Valley 26 Maheno 7
Athletic-Marist 22 Kurow 9
Zingari-Richmond 52 Dunedin 34
Taieri 127 Green Island 12
University 22 Harbour 17
Southern 54 Pirates 12
Kaikorai 50 Alhambra-Union 24
Clutha Valley 29 Toko 29
Crescent 19 Lawrence 17
Clutha 17 Clinton 8
Heriot 80 Owaka 27
Star 29 Midlands 21
Eastern-Northern Barbarians 51 Pirates 14
Marist 17 Blues 15