A wrap of all the club rugby action from around the country.
The Sir Fred Allen Memorial Challenge Cup will remain secure in the Papatoetoe clubrooms for at least the next nine months after the south Aucklanders edged Marist 18-11 in a physical, but error-ridden clash.
There was four seasons in 80 minutes at Papatoetoe on a heavy field, and the 8-all halftime stalemate was a fitting reflection of the parity between two desperate teams. Halfback Junior Polu had a ding-dong halfback battle with his Marist opposite Leon Fukofuka, just back from New Zealand Under 20s duty.
Papatoetoe fullback James Faiva sliced through in just the second minute, but it was not a sign of things to come. Marist were not able to capitalise on a gusty wind, though No 8 Sione Vaiangina did dive over off an effective lineout drive for the visitors to take the lead.
It was a niggly encounter, with a player from each side spending time in the bin, but Papatoetoe's unforced errors kept Marist in the game. However, they camped in the Marist half for much of the second spell, and though they could not drive home their advantage, their bigger pack was soaking up pressure. No 8 Amos Mataia was held up over the line, and replacement Jeremiah Latana latched onto an intercept to bolt 35m and score between the uprights, breaking an 11-all deadlock and most probably consigning Marist to the lower playoffs.
University secured the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy with a tight 13-12 win over Pakuranga at Bell Park, giving the students a seven-point competition buffer over Ponsonby and Grammar TEC with the final round-robin matches to be played this Saturday. Places 2-6 are still separated by just three points, and the battle for home Gallaher Shield quarter-finals is on. Papatoetoe lie fourth but have the bye so will likely slip to fifth or even sixth. College Rifles hammered Otahuhu 50-0 but are ensconced in seventh position.
Manukau Rovers look to have all but sealed eighth spot after a bonus point, 27-16 win over Maungarua. They face winless Waitakere City and will fancy a hefty victory, though the westerners gave their most competitive display yet, going down just 12-20 to Eden. Suburbs' top eight hopes virtually evaporated with a 17-28 loss to Ponies, but they were more competitive than some had predicted. Grammar TEC marched on with a 59-5 victory over East Tamaki.
Papatoetoe 18 Marist 11
University 13 Pakuranga 12
Grammar TEC 59 East Tamaki 5
Ponsonby 28 Suburbs 17
Manukau 27 Maungarua 16
College Rifles 50 Otahuhu 0
Eden 20 Waitakere City 12
The race to become the top qualifiers in the North Harbour premier rugby competition tightened considerably on Saturday with Western Pioneers upsetting leading side Massey 14-13.
In a tight, rugged match between the West Auckland rivals, the Pioneers clung to a 14-10 halftime during a second spell battle of attrition. It was a solid effort by the Pioneers pack to recover from one scrum assault in the first spell which conceded a penalty try.
The Pioneers win means that with just two matches of qualifying left in the second round only two points separate the leading sides, Massey, North Shore and the Pioneers.
Massey, with three defeats in their last four matches, lead Shore by just one point with the Pioneers third another point away. Two crucial matches will be played next weekend when the Pioneers host Shore and Massey face a stiff away test against Silverdale.
Shore and Silverdale both had bonus points wins on Saturday despite the difficult conditions. With veteran first five eighths Willie Walker scoring 20 points Shore beat Northcote 40-8 and Silverdale confirmed the fourth semi-final spot by beating East Coast Bays 37-0.
Fifth placed Takapuna beat Glenfield 41-18, also gaining a bonus point, but are too far away from Silverdale to overhaul them for the July 19 semi-finals.
Silverdale 37 East Coast Bays 0
Takapuna 41 Glenfield 18
North Shore 40 Northcote 8
Western Pioneers 14 Massey 13
It was a tight round of rugby with all but one game going to the wire. The only blow out score line was one of the bigger upsets as Ardmore Marist ran away with a comfortable 49-24 victory over Onewhero. The return of a large number of players that were away during the Under 20 World Cup assisted Ardmore Marist as they were out to a 30 point lead at one stage. Scoring seven tries in the process including a hat trick to Cody Martin, Ardmore Marist looked impressive and will prove difficult opposition in the remaining rounds.
In the other upset result of the round, struggling Manurewa pulled off a surprising 29-27 win over second place Manurewa. A strong finish coming back from a 27-10 deceit allowed Manurewa to claw their way back into the game. A try to Brendon Bell, four minutes into injury time levelled the scores at 27-27 before Ahsee Tuala stepped up to take the match winning conversion.
Karaka dropped only their second game of the season going down to a resurgent Waiuku 23-17. Heading out to a 17-0 lead in the first spell, Karaka looked the better side and were taking the opportunities when they were presented. A Waiuku penalty gave Karaka a considerable 17-3 lead heading into the break. The second half was a completely different story as Waiuku came out fired up and took control of the game lead by the impressive Ronald Raaymakers.
Pukekohe's chance of making the semi-finals took a considerable hit going down to Bombay 24-20. In another tight game where neither team headed out to a lead of more than seven points, Pukekohe had opportunities to take the win in the later stages but were let down by poor handling. The deserved victory for Bombay assists in making their top four position more comfortable.
Ardmore-Marist 49 Onewhero 24
Bombay 24 Pukekohe 20
Waiuku 23 Karaka 17
Manurewa 29 Patumahoe 27
The unbeaten Te Aroha College Old Boys are still in charge of the Premier division but had to work harder than usual to get the better of a gallant Waihi side. The match was a tight battle contested in gusty conditions, but the Cobras eventually got up to beat their hosts 21-8.
In the other matches, Hauraki North trounced Mercury Bay 65-3 at Whitianga, while Waihou managed to hold on and beat their Thames visitors 27-24 after an even encounter.
Te Aroha COBRAS 21 Waihi 8
Hauraki North 65 Mercury Bay 3
Waihou 27 Thames 24
Bay of Plenty
Greerton Marist 38 Rangataua 10
Mount Maunganui 49 Opotiki 0
Whakarewarewa 67 Te Puke Sports 17
Tauranga Sports 69 Rotoiti 5
Te Puna 37 Rangiuru 20
At Marist Park, defending champions Hamilton Marist made a statement about their prospects for this season's silverware with an emphatic 34-15 win over Otorohanga. The visiting side have led the points table for most of this season but were well beaten on Saturday. University now have top ranking after a 36-15 win over Fraser Tech at Mill St, while third ranked Hamilton Old Boys needed a last minute try to head Melville 22-21 at Fred Jones Park. In the other matches, Morrinsville Sports hosted Te Awamutu Sports and won 25-20 after an even encounter, while Hautapu were too good for bottom side Te Rapa, romping home by 68-3.
Hamilton Marist 34 Otorohanga 15
Morrinsville Sports 25 Te Awamutu Sports 20
University 36 Fraser Tech 15
Pirates 39 Wairoa Athletic 26
OBM 38 Horouta 31
YMP 27 HSOB 19
Havelock North 21 Taradale 18
Hastings Rugby and Sports 30 Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports 26
Central 31 MAC 30
Napier Old Boys Marist 47 Clive 10
Napier Technical 33 Tamatea 12
Southern 19 Inglewood 18
NPOB 22 Tukapa 14
Coastal 31 Stratford 8
Clifton 21 Spotswood United 17
Pirates 46 Utiku OB 12
Border 27 Ratana 5
Marton 16 Taihape 15
Ruapehu 31 Marist 7
Old Boys-Marist 61 Te Kawau 24
College Old Boys 36 Feilding 13
Kia Toa 39 Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 12
Linton 43 Freyberg 24
Paraparaumu 23 Shannon 5
Waikanae 19 Levin Wanderers 19
Levin Athletic 30 Levin College Old Boys 23
Martinborough 27 Marist 20
Carterton 33 Pioneer 10
Gladstone 18 East Coast 10
Eketahuna 44 Greytown 23
Hutt Old Boys-Marist 36 Marist-St Pat's 26
Old Boys-University 26 Tawa 23
Upper Hutt Rams 27 Petone 17
Wainuiomata 23 Oriental-Rongotai 20
Stoke 22 Marist 20
Central 25 Kahurangi 5
Waimea 90 Awatere 7
Waitohi 38 Harlequins 8
Ngakawau 48 Old Boys 6
White Star 39 Westport 7
Grey Valley 38 Marist 5
Kiwi 62 Wests 0
South Westland 46 Blaketown 5
Lincoln University 21 New Brighton 19
HSOB 15 Christchurch 11
Sydenham 37 Marist-Albion 20
University 25 Burnside 25
Linwood 58 Shirley 7
Sumner 35 Belfast 0
Celtic 20 Hampstead 17
Methven 37 Southern 28 Methven
Celtic 19 Waimate 13
Harlequins 51 Pleasant Point 10
Mackenzie 14 Geraldine 0
Temuka 19 Old Boys 15
Kurow 19 Valley 13
Athletic Marist 27 Excelsior 16
Old Boys 31 Maheno 14
Zingari-Richmond 27 Kaikorai 21
Southern 31 Alhambra-Union 22
University 28 Pirates 14
Taieri 19 Harbour 16
Dunedin 62 Green Island 23
Clutha 20 Clutha Valley 18
Owaka 25 Clinton 19
Toko 41 Crescent 5
Heriot 27 Lawrence 19
Eastern-Northern Barbarians 25 Blues 0
Woodlands 23 Pirates-Old Boys 17
Marist 22 Star 19