A massive eastside derby is the feature of the penultimate round where all six sides in the Top half are vying for semi-final spots. With Sydenham all but assured a middle-four semi-final, four teams will fight it out for the other spot in the bottom six making it a big weekend of Hawkins Premier Rugby.
NEW BRIGHTON (3rd) v SHIRLEY (2nd) @Rawhiti Domain
1st Round Result: New Brighton 22-16
New Brighton welcome back Canterbury hooker, Seb Siataga. The experience of Troy Mangan at No.6 will also be vital. The backline is unchanged from last weekend with Jordan French getting another start at first-five after an excellent performance last weekend.
Impressive forward Siua Maile will move from hooker to the back of the scrum. The speedy forward has been a standout for the Vikings this season. The combination with Cam Ravenwood and Cullen Moody will be an interesting one to keep an eye on.
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY (1st) v OLD BOYS (4th) @Lincoln University
1st Round Result: Lincoln 34-29
Young prop Matt Graham-Williams will start in just his third appearance for the defending champions after he was impressive when replacing Ben Crawford last weekend. Rameka Poihipi is the player to watch in the centres for Lincoln.
Sam Darry has earned himself a spot in the HSOB run-on XV after putting in a game-changing performance off the bench last weekends’ win. Alex Harford and Jarred Percival will swap positions again as they have done this season showing their versatility between first-five and fullback.
James Munro will take charge of his 100th match as the referee, congrats to him on that.
CHRISTCHURCH (5th) v MARIST-ALBION (6th) @Christchurch Park
1st Round Result: Christchurch 40-24
Christchurch are missing star forwards Hugh Renton (suspension) and Tom Christie (sickness) for their first defence of the DCL Shield, forcing coach Kieran Kite into making several positional changes in the forward pack. The only change in the backline will see Angus Rennie replace Jack Griffiths on the wing
Marist will feature four players from the all-conquering Christchurch Colts side from 2018 in the starting XV. They will look to right the wrongs from their defeat in the first round where they led by 19-points before surrendering the lead and eventually the match.
LINWOOD (5th) v SUMNER (2nd) @Linfield Park
1st Round Result: Linwood 76-22
Tepasu Thomas will start at No.8 for Linwood marking his return from injury after coming off the bench last weekend. Tim Senifano will come back into the run-on XV at fullback with Mark Burton shifting to the centres to cover the vacancy left by Inga Finau.
The ever-present Tom Crozier will again start for Sumner, the only player to have started every game during 2019 for the Wave. Hayden O’Donnell returns from injury too.
SYDENHAM (1st) v BURNSIDE (3rd) @ Sydenham Park
1st Round Result: Sydenham 34-25
Darius Fidow, Zechariah Spain and Seb Flynn will all make their senior debuts off the bench. William Morris-Whyte is replaced by Scott Kelly, forcing a couple of positional changes in the forwards. In the backline Milford Keresoma will replace Amanaki Nicole.
Iliesa Ratuva comes back into the Burnside side replacing David Highsted on the wing. Campbell Youngman is also back for the Bombers; he’ll start at hooker replacing Perry Karati who drops to the bench.
UNIVERSITY (6th) v BELFAST (4th) @Ilam Fields
1st Round Result: Belfast 44-7
University have rung the changes, eight in total, split 50/50 between the forward pack and backline as the coaching staff look to continue to give opportunities as they build towards their 2020 season.
Prop Alex McBratney will start and earn his 50th cap for the Cobras. Brothers, Kima and Mena Tukana will both start at lock although this isn’t unusual. There are also several positional changes in both the forward pack and backline.
Image credit: New Brighton Rugby