Unbeaten after the first four rounds of Baywide Premier rugby, Rangiuru were looking like the real deal.
Today, they went to Te Puna and proved it.
Te Puna were left shell shocked as they were ambushed in front of their home crowd, Rangiuru producing a dominant performance to win 27-17 and announce themselves as genuine contenders this season.
The away side, led by inspirational player/coach Tanerau Latimer, made a statement early on with two massive scrums, the second of which forced Te Puna to ground the ball in their own in-goal.
Nine minutes into the half Rangiuru turned the pressure into points when they created an overlap on the left and second five Ngatai Kingi crashed through a couple of tackles to score. The try was converted, Rangiuru led 7-0 and a hush fell over a concerned home crowd.
Rangiuru, playing with pure passion and enthusiasm but also control, had all the possession and territory in the first quarter of the game.
After 15 minutes they had a chance to extend their lead with a penalty about 40m out but Kingi was unable to convert. Ten minutes later he had an opportunity from a similar position and having readjusted his radar he knocked it over to give Rangiuru a 10-0 lead.
Te Puna were not 2018 Premier finalists for nothing and when finally given an opportunity to attack they made the most of it. After several phases inside the Rangiuru 22m they worked the ball left and second five Sharman Johnson raced through a gap to score. First five Reece MacDonald converted and the deficit was reduced to 10-7.
Rangiuru went straight back on attack, however, and with about five minutes left in the half they were in again. They had a scrum 5m out from the try line and produced a near perfect set play during which winger Elijah Nicholas came in field and hit a gap next to the scrum. He was far too strong to ever be stopped from that distance. Kingi converted and Rangiuru had 17-7 lead which they carried into the break.
The Te Puna halftime team talk must've had some substance because they came out fizzing in the second stanza. They put together numerous phases in the Rangiuru half and it paid off when captain and flanker Kaydin Budd hit a gap on the left to score. The try was not converted and Te Puna trailed 17-12.
Rangiuru first five Simon Rolleston was yellow carded 15 minutes into the second half for a high tackle and a restless Te Puna crowd began to sense a potential comeback. Unfortunately for the home side, it was one of those days as they struggled to find the final pass on attack on multiple occasions.
In fact, it was Rangiuru who scored next, Kingi kicking another penalty to extend the lead back out to 20-12.
With about five minutes left in the game, Rangiuru put the final nail in the coffin. Some immensely physical defence near halfway resulted in a turnover and winger Nicholas, busy as ever and looking for work in the middle of field, scooped up the ball and took off. He shrugged off a tackle and turned on the afterburners to race away and score. The try was converted and Rangiuru held a commanding 27-12 lead.
Te Puna never stopped fighting and had their chances in the dying stages but too many loose passes prevented them making any real in-roads. A late try reduced the deficit to 27-17, but was little more than a consolation.