Marist upset Papatoetoe away from home with a solid, allround 25-17 victory which underlines its case as a playoff contender in Auckland premier club rugby.
There would have been plenty to be thankful for at the Marist club Mass on Sunday as Darryl Suasua's boys built on an 11-3 halftime lead to overturn the comers Papatoetoe in brilliant autumn conditions.
The expected match-up between Papatoetoe wing Tenina Sauileoge - the competition's leading tryscorer - and former Blues and North Harbour flyer Viliame Waqaseduadua, now the Marist No 11, never eventuated as both were on opposite wings. But both were central to their respective side's fortunes.
Papatoetoe could not capitalise on some early scrum dominance, where young tighthead prop Jarrod Firth was impressive, and had just a solitary penalty goal to show for its first half toil. Marist, on the other hand, came out hungry, and fullback Jordan Hyland scored the opening try after quick hands down the blindside.
Though Marist copped two loose forward sinbinnings, it had more overall discipline than Papatoetoe, which was marched 10m on several occasions for backchat by Otago referee Lima Scanlon.
The home team was stilted in the backs and beaten to the punch in the forwards, and too often the dangerous Sauileoge had to search for work, though he did dart over for two tries.
The likes of loosie Ben Masoe won his share of lineout ball, but Marist was hungry at the breakdown and the try to captain and hooker Pat Leafa, off a 20m rolling maul, showcased its superiority.
The defensive line started to falter late in the match, but it cemented the result with a classic try in the corner to Waqaseduadua after good hands by no less than three of the backs.
Elsewhere, University defended the Sir Fred Allen Challenge Cup for the sixth time with a stylish 38-0 smashing of previously unbeaten Pakuranga, Ponsonby was too good for Waitakere City, 45-8, and Grammar-Carlton dispatched Te Papapa-Mt Wellington 30-12.
Waitemata, Suburbs and Teachers-Eastern all earned their second victory of the season, while College Rifles accounted for Eden 41-30 in a tryfest.
Patumahoe outclassed top of the table Pukekohe 20-15. After spending the first four rounds of the competition in bottom spot, Patumahoe's run of good form sees them sitting just three points outside of the top four.
A dedicated effort, highlighted by commitment and solid defence saw Patumahoe secure the hard fought victory. Starting strongly and completely out playing Pukekohe in the first 30 minutes, Patumahoe's lead at halftime of 10-3 could have been much larger had they not missed their first four shots at goal. Pukekohe came back well in the second half and took the lead mid way through the second spell, but a late try to midfielder Tekori Luteru and solid
defence in the final minutes as Pukekohe attacked inside the Patumahoe's half sealed a well deserved victory.
What seems to be the story of Bombay's season, another strong start and the inability to finish well cost Bombay against a strong Waiuku team. As in many games this season, Bombay started the stronger of the two teams and looked composed with good possession, scoring the first 10 points of the game. But as the game progressed, Waiuku slowly started to dominate as they kept the game tight using their forward pack who dominated at set phase. Bombay had chances in the second spell, but struggled to finish anything off with their first five Ray Laulala being their standout player. Playing in his 150th game for the club, Waiuku prop Maka Tatafu scored one of his teams seven tries and kicked two conversions in his team's 45-10 victory.
Ardmore Marist had a surprisingly large 48-10 win over a disappointing Manurewa team. Manurewa, who have looked good in stages this season but have lacked the consistency, went down 48-10 with Ardmore Marist scoring seven tries in the process including three to Lolohea Loco.
Karaka turned the tables after their first round loss to Onewhero completely outplaying them for a 49-5 victory.
Goal-kicking failures proved costly for Silverdale in the key North Harbour premier match on Saturday against the defending champions Northcote.
Though they scored three tries to two, Silverdale lost the match 23-15, the defeat meaning that in what has been a tightly contested competition they plunged from top place on the ladder to fifth.
Silverdale scored some lovely tries, none better than their first by flanker Mikaele Tuu'u, but the missed conversions, plus a number of penalty attempts, put them at a disadvantage against a Northcote pack well led by the young Whetton brothers, William and Jack.
And in a touch of irony Northcote had in former Silverdale player Matt Clark an accurate goalkicker and his record of five goals from six attempts proved to be the decisive factor.
Massey and Western Pioneers moved to a share of the championship lead with wins over East Coast Bays and Marist 56-28 and 41-14 respectively.
Penalties and constant stoppages, unfortunately, marred Massey's win, with first five-eighths Richard Lobb landing six penalties for Massey and Dave McMurtrie a similar number for Bays. Lobb's swag of 33 points took him to 109 points for the season in just six matches.
Ben Botica also reached his personal century with 10 conversions as North Shore over-ran bottom side Mahurangi 80-0 and, with the gap between the top six and bottom four sides becoming disturbing, Takapuna were equally as ruthless in dispatching Glenfield 81-8.
Those wins moved these traditionally formidable clubs to strong challenging ladder positions. Shore have moved into outright third, just two behind Massey and Western, while Takapuna in sixth place are just a point behind Silverdale.