Greerton Marist won their way into next year's Ham Cuming Cup with a comprehensive 48-17 win over Whakatane Marist at the 82nd Spillane Tournament held at Greerton Park on the weekend.
The home side won the third tier Brennan Cup contested between Marist affiliated sides, and will attempt to force themselves into top flight Spillane Cup rugby with victory in the second tier competition in Lower Hutt next year.
Winger Blair Tristram, who has played for the club for 10 years, said Marist rugby is in good stead.
"The level is pretty good - teams like Auckland Marist are taking it seriously, so there's been some good rugby played," said Tristram.
He believes his side are primed to compete with the big boys of Bay of Plenty rugby after managing to stay up in the premier competition after winning promotion the previous season.
"We are looking to make the semifinals this year. We finished eighth last year but we really want to push for those playoffs.
"The boys did well, but there's still a lot to work on. Getting the combinations going is the one thing we have to work on."
Greerton also won trophies in the colts and presidents divisions.
Due to a combination of scheduling and cost, Marist Albion of Christchurch were the lone representatives of the South Island's 10 Marist clubs.
The side finished in the top four of the Christchurch competition last season and were at their first Spillane Cup in many years, at the expense of the annual trip to the Marist Sevens tournament in Wellington.
Club president Dave Barker said the trip represented an opportunity not afforded to many clubs.
"It is a good opportunity for some pre-season work and to mix with the Marist," said Barker.
Greerton Marist netball coordinator Michelle Sanders said her players were glad to be hosting a tournament that many Marist sides lacked the funds to attend.
"The weather is good, stinking hot," said Sanders. "Not really netball weather, but it's been going really well. It's all played in good spirits, which is great. This is our one big get together for the year so we try to get as many teams here as we can. It's the only time we see each other every year.
"It is the first pre-season hit-out, which is a rude awakening. We've only got a bit of training under our belts so it's a great chance for some games."