There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of winter sport played under floodlights.

The chilly air, descending dew, and mist rising from the scrums and rucks all adds to the drama.

Night games are uncommon in the Baywide competition with few grounds having sufficiently strong lights to host matches.

But one that does is the picturesque Maramataga Park in Te Puna.


Tonight from 7.30pm the home side take on Te Puke Sports to kick-off round five of the Baywide Premier division.

Both sides have three wins from their opening four matches, with Te Puna in fourth place on 16 points and Te Puke Sports three points adrift of Te Puna in fifth place. Whakatane Marist (20 points) are surprise leaders, ahead of Tauranga Sports (19) and Mount Maunganui Sports (17).

Last week, Te Puna put 92 points on Paroa, who are well out of their depth at this level, while Te Puke, on their home ground, needed a last-minute penalty to beat a fired-up Rotoiti.

Te Puke coach Craig Jeffries would like more Friday night games.

"I like playing under lights. Some coaches seem to be a little bit fearful of it because they go to someone's home ground and play in a different environment," he said.

"Te Puna are bloody good at home and under lights so those two things are together (tonight). I just think the festival side of it is great. You tend to get a decent crowd and there is a little bit of uniqueness about it so it is good fun."

Te Puke have been anything but convincing so far as they rebuild their squad after multiple changes.

"Rotoiti, Whaka, Greerton ... we are getting out of jail a little bit. We certainly have a lot to work on.

"We dominated the first half and Rotoiti played out of their skins in the second half. I would imagine that is their best 40 minutes of rugby for quite some time and they were unlucky not to win, to be fair," Jeffries said.

Games between Whakarewarewa and Tauranga Sports were always epic battles.

Tomorrow's clash in Rotorua should be another.

Tauranga Sports have a new coaching group led by Zane Winslade but are unbeaten so far and still set the standards. Whakarewarewa should really have beaten Mount Maunganui at Blake Park last week and are tough to beat at Puarenga Park.

It has been a fine start to the season for Whakatane Marist and no one can begrudge them enjoying their lofty position on the table.

But the reality is they have yet to play a top six team.

Tomorrow they travel to Greerton Marist, who are second last without a win to their name but have shown plenty of try-scoring ability. It could well be a first win and first loss for the respective sides.

In other games, Arataki will be after their second win when they host Paroa, Rangataua Sports are home to Opotiki and Mount Maunganui Sports are away to Rotoiti.