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April 1, 2006 at 10:13 am #5999
Norths v Poneke: Jubilee Final
Jubilee Cup: 10/08/2006
Northern United and Poneke have undoubtedly been the best performing teams of 2006, and both will be eager to cap it off with the Jubilee Cup title. For Swindale Shield champions Norths it will be about chasing the elusive Shield-Cup double, last achieved by Marist St. Pat’s in 1999, while Poneke will be out to reverse several finals near misses in recent years, including their 18-20 defeat to Norths in the 2004 final.
Today Norths will be playing in their third straight final, following their breakthrough Cup win in 2004 and then an upset 20-21 loss to Petone in last year’s final. Poneke are no strangers to Westpac Stadium, with this being their fifth final out of the seven contested here since 2000. However 2003’s 26-22 win over MSP is their only Stadium Cup triumph, with previous losses to Petone in 2000, MSP in 2001 and to Norths two years ago.
Both teams arrive at today’s season finale having won two contrasting semi-finals. Poneke were all determination in grinding out a two-point victory against Hutt Old Boys Marist, with first five-eighth Brad Cooper kicking five penalties, while Norths turned on the razzle-dazzle to trounce Petone nine tries to two. Today’s game promises to be extremely close, with a recent history of tight Jubilee Cup finals and this season’s Norths-Poneke head to head outcomes likely indicators. In their two previous clashes this year Poneke eked out an 11-7 Old Timer’s Day win in the Shield round, before they then drew 13-13 a month ago in round-robin play, while the average winning margin in the previous six finals has been just three points.
Norths and Poneke bring a wealth of experience to the season climax, with several players on both sides involved in the 2004 Cup final. Both are strong in all departments, with Poneke more renowned for its gritty defensive qualities and Norths for its explosive flair. Expect a titanic battle in the forwards, with Poneke locks Rob Turuwhenua and Conrad Pa’u and No. 8 Neil Meyer key players, while prop Anthony Perenise, hooker Sio Thomas, and No. 8 Anare Koliavu have been top perfomers all year for Norths. In the backs, both sides are stacked with danger, with Norths halfback Lua Vaoloaloa and veteran Poneke left wing Evan Belford two players to watch.
“Were gonna give Jerry the bash” Poneke Skipper Turuwhenua was overhead saying at training on Thursday night.
Poneke by five.
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