(McNamara Cup, round one)
Ardmore-Marist 33 Manurewa 19
Patumahoe 27 Papakura 8
Pukekohe 29 Karaka 26
Bombay 41 Onewhero 0
Waiuku 26 Te Kauwhata 14
Pukekohe have edged Karaka 29-26 in a tight opening round marquee clash in the McNamara Cup.
Waka Setitaia's side, in reasonable conditions at the Colin Lawrie Fields, considering the weather bomb, finished well after conceding a 14-10 halftime deficit to a bigger and more experienced pack.
The turning point was a penalty goal attempt by Pukekohe first five Jamie King which hit the upright. Following up was wing Matthew Vava, who scored the try. King's nine points were key, as were tries to Steelers hooker Gafatasi Sua, wing Peni Buakula and halfback Christie Gregor. Lock Cameron Skelton added his ballast to the Pukekohe scrum, which had a fierce battle with Karaka. While Pukekohe took most of their opportunities with a young side in which several were making their premier debuts, Setitaia admits the clash could easily have gone either way.
Karaka halfback Desma Liaina scored 14 points, including a try, while the seasoned loose forward Jamie Gilbert-Clark was also influential for the visitors.
Elsewhere, a brace to loose forward Vini Iosua and some staunch defence, considering their lack of possession, saw Ardmore-Marist to a hard-earned 33-19 win over Manurewa. The home side led 18-0 at halftime, but had to withstand a fierce comeback from the visitors, who scored three tries.
A strong first spell saw Patumahoe trump Papakura 27-8, though the bonus point proved elusive.
Defending champions Bombay sent out a 41-0 warning to rivals. That was their scoreline against Onewhero, the club that upset them in last year's round one fixture. Steelers centre Sam Vaka and loose forward Haamiora Clarke were among the six tryscorers.
Waiuku also started on the right note, a bonus point, 26-14 victory over Te Kauwhata.
Next weekend's game of the week sees Patumahoe hosting Pukekohe, always a grudge local derby, while Bombay travel to Karaka. - Campbell Burnes
Hikurangi 37 Uawa 11
Waiapu 55 Tawhiti 12
Tokararangi 34 Hicks Bay 10
TVC beat Tokomaru United by default
*On March 18, Auckland start their pre-season Waka Nathan Challenge Cup, while other unions to kick off their 2017 seasons next Saturday are Northland, Bay of Plenty, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wellington and sub-union Central Otago.