In-form Napier Old Boys Marist first five-eighth Johnny Lauano didn't know he was playing his 150th game for the team until an hour before kick off on Saturday.
Nor could he remember his first season with the side. But there was one thing Lauano, 29, was certain of after Hawke's Bay Insurances Limited Napier Old Boys Marist's 40-10 win against Ansin & Monteith Hastings Rugby and Sports in the feature Tui Maddison Trophy seventh-round clash at Elwood Park.
"We can go all the way and retain our title. We just have to keep playing like we have been every week. We're putting in the work every Tuesday and Thursday at trainings, everyone knows their roles and that makes it easier."
This was the team's 30th consecutive win during the past two seasons and the 16th time they had secured maximum competition points this season. Fifth-placed Hastings had hoped to secure a couple of bonus points at least to keep their semifinal hopes alive but they paid the price for poor discipline and numerous fumbles when they entered their attacking 22.
While Hastings were on the receiving end of a couple of dubious penalty try decisions by otherwise sharp referee Stu Catley the damage had been done by then.
Hastings head coach Bevan Lynch agreed the conceding of six penalties within the first 10 minutes didn't help his troops but he was happy with the improvement from the previous week, considering five of his players were backing up from the Hawke's Bay Saracens match on Wednesday night.
Captain and openside flanker Chris Johnston and prop Mike King were an inspirational pair in the NOBM pack. Second five-eighth Ricky Hayes was dangerous on attack and a menace on defence.
Halfback Jayden Rihia was full of endeavour in his 50th appearance for Hastings. Centre Ausage Fomai and wingers Mason Emerson and Saifiti Saifiti were constructive and destructive as required.
Clive 22 Havelock North 15
K9 Petfoods Clive spoilt Progressive Meats Havelock North flanker Sam Lamborn's 100th game celebrations with this Anderson Park victory.
"It wasn't the most attractive of wins but we were up for most of the game and we took our opportunities," delighted Clive head coach Blair Cross said.
Experienced No 8 Api Sione and prop Nathan Bruce shone with their workrates in the visiting pack and winger Duff Penitito was the pick of the Clive backs.
"That's our semifinal hopes gone and equally as hard to take was the loss at home and not being able to do it for Sam," Havelock North statistician Conrad Waitoa said.
Second five-eighth Kalin Paewai was a rock as he impressed with his defence in the hosts' backline. Fullback Shannan Chase and winger Mikey Vuicakau were again lethal on attack when given the opportunity.
Taradale 31 Central 26
If Carters Frame and Truss Taradale fans didn't toast the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union's Global Academy after this home victory they should have.
American first five-eighth Scott Dean, who was on an academy stint, kicked 16 points and proved he could be almost as useful as Japanese pivot Yoshihito Sato was during his time with the club. Dean benefited from some quality service from Magpies centurion Chris Eaton, who produced a player-of-the-match display at halfback.
Prop Reese Aranui was a powerful figure in the host pack. Northfuels Central manager Ian Large agreed the entertaining encounter could have gone either way.
Lock Ben Bennett scored in his 50th appearance for the visitors. Flankers Tomo Fogarty and Wilbur Redward were again workaholics in the Central pack and elusive fullback Karl Lepelaars deserved his two tries.
Pirate 32 Tamatea 12
Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports retained second place with this win at Bill Mathewson Park.
"It was a classic game of two halves. We got the five competition points in the first half when we established a 27-5 lead and should have capitalised more when Tamatea were down to 14 players for the last 30 minutes but we played ugly rugby," said the Pirate head coach, Pouri Rakete-Stones snr.
Props Sean Morrison and Kelsey Miller and hooker Pouri Rakete-Stones jnr provided plenty of grunt to the winning pack. Centre Al Momoisea operated well in the Pirate backline.
"Once again we gave our opponents a 20-point head start which wasn't the start we wanted on club day," Tamatea head coach Matt Marsh said.
While Marsh accepted his prop Alex Kireka-Starnes had to be red carded for retaliation, he was disappointed the Pirate player who head butted him went unpunished. Second five-eighth Colin Hokianga, lock Ivan Bellamy and tighthead prop Te Maangi Hamlin all made Marsh's MVP list.
Tech 26 MAC 23
Former MAC hooker Tere Joel produced a player-of-the-match performance for Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical during this Whitmore Park victory.
Lock Todd Cushing was also busy at the coalface and second five-eighth Ted Walters was again the pick of the Texans backs.
"We bombed three tries but at least we stayed in the hunt for a semifinal berth," Tech manager Cyril Whitburn said.
MAC manager Narley Tuliau was proud of the manner in which the visitors secured two bonus points. First five-eighth Tom Iosefo, centre Samu Iosua, who scored two tries, and fullback Filemoni Asolua were a classy trio in the MAC backline.
All of the MAC forwards formed a cohesive unit which was well marshalled by halfback Brigham Morley.