Every visiting Hawke's Bay premier rugby coach to Waipukurau's Central Park will tell you it's a tough assignment.
The rugged Central Hawke's Bay farmers always perform well at home against their city slicker opponents. However there's one weekend which is a little easier than most - opening weekend of the duck shooting season, as was the case on Saturday.
Up 23-3 at halftime against Central in their sixth round Tui Nash Cup fixture, IMS Payroll Hastings Rugby and Sports would have been excused for thinking their opponents were a little tired after a busy morning of shooting and they could be in for a rare romp at the venue.
However this wasn't the case as Central won the second half 15-12.
"We showed a lot of heart in the second half and were much better," Central coach and former Magpies lock Rob Evans said.
He pointed out none of his players withdrew from the match because of duck shooting commitments. Several, like himself who shot a couple in the morning, went in the morning and some went out again after the match.
"It would have been nice to have a win but I'm sure we're not far off an 80 minute effort," Evans added.
Busy No.8 Mark Ioane, tighthead prop Dennis Tapusua and Adam Ross, who had stints at fullback and halfback were all prominent in the visitors' 35-18 win. Irish flanker Tom Burns scored his first try for the visitors.
Lock Conrad Pedersen again impressed for Central along with winger Daniel McIntyre, who scored two tries and shone with his cover defence, and halfback Braydon Hardwidge.
NTOB 27 Pirate 6
Tech Group of Companies Napier Technical ended Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports' title hopes with this win at Whitmore Park.
While some may have been surprised by the margin, the fact the visitors were missing six first stringers was a key factor. Openside flanker Hugh Reed had a huge workrate for Tech before retiring hurt while prop Mark Braidwood and winger Ted Walters were powerful.
After leaking some soft tries in the first half, Pirate's defence improved in the second when they conceded one. Centre Matt Hill marshalled the defence well while No.8 Aaron McPhee and lock Roger McPherson were tireless in the Pirate pack.
Havelock 87 Tamatea 15
Progressive Meats Havelock North's second string first five-eighth Adam Blake scored 27 points in this walloping at Bill Mathewson Park.
Blake scored a try and kicked 11 conversions. However he was pipped for player-of-the-match honours by fullback Jacob Kennedy who grabbed three tries and had a huge defensive workrate. Tighthead prop Emmanuel Maui was the pick of the villagers forwards.
Although the losing margin may suggest otherwise Tamatea stuck to their never-say-die approach. Hooker Rick Kiri Kiri, openside flanker Campbell Johnstone and No.8 Hamiora Rowlands were the architects of this approach.
NOBM 19 Clive 7
Hawke's Bay Insurances Napier Old Boys Marist coach Mike Warren is full of praise for the loose forwards stocks in the province.
"The Magpies will be spoilt for choice in this department ... it's just a matter of how they want to use them," he said after watching his No.8 Mark Abbott go head to head with Clive's Mark Atkins in this win at Farndon Park.
"Abbott scored two tries and was the player-of-the-match because he was in a dominant pack. But Atkins is a good ball carrier ... they will both be useful at the next level," Warren said.
Blindside flanker Matt Robertson and winger Logan Donaldson, in his first premier outing, also made Warren's MVP list. First five-eighth Adam Chapman, prop Nathan Bruce and locks Rana Huata and Casper Repko were all inspirational in an improving Clive outfit.
MAC 12 Taradale 11
MAC coach Pat Benson was praising the character of his squad after this victory at Tareha Reserve.
"It was a game which could have gone either way but desperate defence and improved discipline got us the win and for us any win is a good one," Benson said.
His loose forward trio of No.8 Everard Reid and flankers Api Sione and Willy Benson combined well. Halfback Willy Schuster made a memorable return from injury.
"We had our chances in what was a frustrating game because we were up for most of it," Carters Frame and Truss Taradale coach Blair Cross said.