Mount Maunganui Sports have all the momentum heading in to this weekend's Baywide Premier One championship after taking out the first found title by seven points from Tauranga Sports with Whakatane Marist third.

On Saturday, Mount Maunganui's good recent form continued as they beat Opotiki 99-5 in a glorified training run with first-five Pera Gibbs scoring 39 points.

Tauranga Sports looked anything but defending champions as they were well beaten at Tauranga Domain by this season's surprise package Whakatane Marist.

Whakatane's ability to off-load in the tackle and break the line at will with big, tight forwards running like wingers has led to a season of spectacular tries.


If it sounds like a description of the flying Fijian team then that is apt as there is a strong Fijian connection in the Whakatane squad that also has a strong bench meaning no respite from the razzle dazzle rugby late in the game.

Tauranga's backline surprisingly lacked urgency and combination so far into the season.

The inside backs and fringe defence was poor allowing Whakatane to attack at will.

There was far too much lateral running across field that made it easy for Whakatane centre and Steamers squad player Elijah Nicholas to rule the midfield.

Tauranga's forward pack had the dominant scrum and scrapped well for the loose ball but Whakatane's ability to create space was not countered and they never looked like losing.

Isaia Vuko ran the enterprising backline well from first-five and his dangerous snipes at the line committed the Tauranga defence, enabling space out wide for the likes of Nicholas, winger Thomas Ravouvou and fullback Leethan Rawiri to cut some merry capers.

Whakatane's blindside flanker and co-coach Alamoti Te Pou says the victory is a key moment in the season so far.

"Tauranga has been the team all year that has probably set the standard for rugby. We wanted to come here and prove we can compete with them and we are delighted with the outcome today," Te Pou said.

"They have such great structure and we put in a great defensive effort. On attack we just wanted to look after the ball better than we had before.

"One of the things we wanted to do was build on those non-negotiables, some of that hard graft to compliment some of the flair that we have.

"First step was to make the top eight so today we celebrate making the top eight which is great but we have set some lofty goals for this season to push forward, to keep improving and see where we can get."