If there was any doubt about whether Rangiuru are the real deal this year, they put it to bed with a commanding 27-17 win over last year's beaten finalists Te Puna on Saturday.
After drawing 22-all with Greerton in their first game of the year, Rangiuru have won four on the trot. Te Puna were arguably the first real test of Rangiuru's title credentials and they passed with flying colours.
Halfback and captain Isaac Te Aute, a product of Rotorua Boys' High School, says there is a real buzz around the team at the moment but they are not getting ahead of themselves. In fact, he says the reason for their success so far is as simple as focusing on the basics.
Three massive Rangiuru scrums in the opening minutes of the game had the Te Puna forward pack reeling and brought a hush over the home crowd, laying the platform for a comprehensive showing.
"It was a pretty gutsy performance, we managed to do the simple things right and it sort of paid off, especially in the first 20 minutes when we were able to put a lot of pressure on. I thought our forwards played a heck of a game today, they scrummed really well and lined out really well to set up a good platform for the backs to attack.
"[Getting the basics right] has been a focus since the start of pre-season. We're really nailing our basic catch-and-pass, all the simple things."
He says a tight bond between the players on and off the field has worked wonders. Having an inspirational leader, player/coach Tanerau Latimer, in the side has also made a difference.
"We've done a lot of stuff outside rugby, getting to know all the boys personally, that's been huge getting us together and we're obviously displaying it out on the paddock.
"[Latimer] has brought a lot of confidence to the boys, he's a real good professional athlete and he's brought that into our environment, getting all the younger boys to learn off him. Coming into training the standards have picked right up from where they have been in previous years and that's really paying dividends."
Rangiuru remain second on the table to crosstown rivals and defending champions Te Puke. The two sides meet in the final weekend of the first round in what is sure to be a blockbuster. Te Aute says that game is always at the back of the players' minds, but it is not the focus at present.
"We're just taking it week by week at the moment, we can't think too far ahead or we might get beaten next weekend."
Meanwhile, Te Puna coach Aidan Kuka sat his players down on the field for a lengthy team talk after the game on Saturday. The key message was to keep their heads up but learn from the loss.
"Rangiuru definitely brought passion, pride and put together a performance they can be bloody proud of. We can absolutely learn from that, I call it grassroots club rugby, that passion is why we love it and why we get involved."
Kuka knew the Rangiuru forward pack had some real firepower going into the game.
"We definitely knew they had a big scrum and credit to them, they got under us in the first couple and managed to apply pressure at set-piece time.
"We did fight to the end, we never threw in the towel and gave up. It would've been nice to show that fight more though, especially in that first 20 minutes.
"I see it as a good thing [to lose early in the season]. You never want to lose but you'd rather have it now than next round."
It is a short turnaround for Te Puna, who now switch their attention to an Anzac Day clash with Arataki on Thursday. Rangiuru host Tauranga Sports on Saturday.