After a week's sabbatical, Ninetyblack Taupō is back on top of The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Premiership.
They were forced to dig deep at Crown Park against Waikato Unicol and came from behind to win 4-3 in a typically open encounter, while Ōtūmoetai, who led Taupō on goal difference after two Queen's Birthday victories, slumped 3-1 at lowly West Hamilton United.
Jordan Lamb twice put Taupō ahead during the first half, only to see Unicol draw level each time, first through Ethan Martin and then via a Thomas Wright goal four minutes before half time.
Martin's second goal of the game, 15 minutes from time, appeared to set the students on course for a win that would have put them right back in the title race, but substitute Byron Thessman figured that shouldn't be happening and drew Taupō level only two minutes later.
The game's final decisive moment came six minutes from the end when Taupō were awarded a penalty. Joe O'Donoghue kept his nerve to put the home side in front for the final time in a result that stretched their winning run to eight in a row.
Ōtūmoetai undid their recent hard work somewhat after suffering a surprise defeat at West Hamilton. The committed Hamiltonians, however, were well worth the points in what was only their second win of a difficult season.
Flying Mullet Pāpāmoa moved into second after Colm Kenny's first half penalty gave them a 1-0 win at Gisler Architects Te Awamutu, while Tauranga Blue Rovers maintained their top five spot with a 2-1 home win over Ngaruawahia United.
Two sides that don't appear to mind a draw, Melville United and Comag Matamata Swifts, were at it again at Gower Park in a match that finished 2-all.
Tauranga Boys' College secured their third win of the season with a 2-0 win at bottom side Safer Team Te Puke United. After a goalless first half, Braxton Fisher and Alfie Cole hit the goals that got Tauranga Boys' home.
Meanwhile, Tauranga City remain proudly at the top of The Soccer Shop WaiBOP W-League after pummelling Hamilton Wanderers 10-0 on Sunday. As is usually the case, Annaliesse Heuval was among the goals, with the prolific scorer hitting the back of the net four more times in this match. City, by far the most potent attacking force in the league with nearly 50 goals from their eight games, maintain their three-point lead.
Claudelands Rovers, who had appeared to be Tauranga's closest challengers for the title, weren't in action over the weekend following Tauranga Blue Rovers' withdrawal from the league. With a full round having been played, however, all points and goals from games involving Blue Rovers will stand, with a bye being introduced for the second round.
Their inactivity saw Claudelands slip to fourth after both Tilemax Pāpāmoa and Whakatāne Town picked up victories.
Pāpāmoa moved into second after a 3-1 home win over Melville United. Whakatāne Town completed a comfortable 5-0 win at Ōtūmoetai.
Bulk Lines Otorohanga are on a tear in The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Championship. A week after sticking eight past leaders, Unicol Reserves, they went a few better against bottom side, Waharoa Transport Matamata Reserves. Their 12-0 victory, thanks to four goals from recent signing Jack Connor and doubles from Mason Apperly, Chris Knight, Aaron Thompson and Joe Cammock moved them in to second spot and boosted their goal difference to a healthy plus-33.
Unicol dropped points again, after being held to a 2-all draw at Taupō's reserves. Their advantage over Otorohanga is now five points and they've also played a game more.
Claudelands Rovers jumped over Ōtūmoetai's reserves into third spot after defeating their Bay of Plenty opponents 4-2 at Gower Park.
Tauranga City beat neighbours, Flying Mullet Pāpāmoa reserves 4-1 and Cambridge defeated Tokoroa 5-2. Tauranga Blue Rovers reserves, after being winless for so long, picked up their third victory on the trot in beating Hamilton Wanderers 2-1.
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