Otumoetai Eels signalled their intention to be there until the finish of the Waicoa Bay Premier competition this year with a hard-fought but powerful 33-20 win over Pikiao Warriors in Rotorua on Saturday with dynamic hooker Tane Leef bagging four tries.
A simple game plan to keep it close around the ruck showed how good the smaller Eels pack can be when they stick to the basics and take it to their much bigger opposition.
Big charges by prop Dan Karauna and centre/loose forward Josh Tupou were noticeable but Leef was the toast of the day
Other scorers for the Eels were left wing Ryan Gordon and centre Mark Ballantyne, with experienced playmaker half Josh Weeden adding four goals and a field goal.
The Pikiao forwards tried their hearts out, but it just wasn't their day in the end after they pummelled Ngongotaha the week before.
This win helps the Eels to stay near the leaders after six rounds.
The Eels reserves battled hard to retain their unbeaten status and remain at the top of their ladder with a hard fought 16 all draw.
This Saturday, the Eels host third-placed Taniwharau Taniwha from Huntly at 2.30 Mitchell Park.
The only two unbeaten reserve grade sides will fight it out to see who gains the outright lead in their grade.
In other premier results on Saturday, leaders Hamilton City Tigers walloped the hapless Hamilton United 102-6, Taupo Phoenix beat Ngongotaha 44-4, Taniwharau hammered Turangawaewae 50-6 with Pacific Sharks having the bye.
Eels under-17s beat Pikiao 22-18, the under-15s beat Taupo 32-12. The under-13 team won both of their games in a tournament in Kawerau.