Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Te Puke win ends Marist's run at the top

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Mount Maunganui halfback Jonty Wood in action against Tauranga Sports at Blake Park on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Mount Maunganui halfback Jonty Wood in action against Tauranga Sports at Blake Park on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner

Whakatane Marist's dream run leading the Premier division came to a shattering end on Saturday.

For eight weeks the dynamic, attacking outfit has confounded expectations by continuing to win and hold off Tauranga Sports and Mount Maunganui Sports from the top spots.

However, Whakatane's bubble was well and truly burst at Murray Salt Stadium by a fired-up home side that finally put together 80 minutes of rugby.

Te Puke Sports won easily 42-7, scoring six tries to one after leading 27-7 at the break. Lock Chulain Mabbett-Sowerby was named player of the day.

After such a thumping, it will be interesting to see if Whakatane can recover in time to sustain their challenge for the first-round title.

The loss dropped them back to second, tied with Tauranga Sports on 35 points, two behind new leaders Mount Maunganui with two matches to play.

The Mounties came through their toughest test against Tauranga with renewed confidence and the Jordan Cup, after they scored the only two tries in the match to win more comfortably than the 17-12 scoreline indicates.

Had usually accurate goalkicker Pera Gibbs brought his kicking boots the margin would have been far greater.

It was a tight clash between two competitive teams that struggled to get going until a freakish individual try to Mount Maunganui winger Doug Law split the game open.

He took the ball at pace at first receiver from a set scrum 42 metres out and skinned the inside defence before outpacing the cover defence for a memorable try.

Law normally struggles to get game time but with Mason Walker and Danny Kayes in France with the Paul Tietjens-coached New Zealand Development sevens team, this was his chance. And he nailed it.

Mount Maunganui clinched the game when Gibbs served up a peach of a pass from another set scrum move to put centre Marnus Hanley in under the bar.

Coach Rodney Voullaire says it "was just two good teams going at it".

"There are always going to be big hits, big runs and at some stage someone is going to crack. At times we did so we need to fill in those cracks over the next couple of weeks with the top eight coming up," Voullaire said.

"We are improving all the time in [defence] and the boys are working hard. They are putting the extra effort in and we have a good medical team to keep these boys going. That all counts going ahead into the top eight."

In other games, Hunter Mokomoko scored six tries and Bay of Plenty Steamers rep Shane Eru nabbed three as Te Puna thrashed Opotiki 99-3, while Whakarewarewa edged Rangataua Sports 13-8 in a tight battle at Te Ariki Park. Greerton Marist beat Paroa 52-19 and Rotoiti defeated Arataki 24-11.

The results mean Whakarewarewa have dropped out of the top eight.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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