Papamoa's 10-0 victory at promoted Hamilton Wanderers caused the most attention on the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership opening day that provided many talking points.

The result underlined all the pre-season buzz surrounding Papamoa, who proved they'll be the polar opposite of the abject side that lost all 22 games last season. New coach Duncan Lowry has recruited well and will now have his sights set on repeating the 2009 Premiership title he won with Matamata Swifts.

Papamoa's win, their record victory at this level, was built around Andrew Cooper's four goals. Mitchell Hales and Strauss Boom grabbed a brace each as the young Wanderers side was overrun on their home ground.

The trick now will be for Papamoa to repeat this type of result in the tougher games to follow. Lowry, however, has a strong history at this level and higher. After helping Matamata to their sole title he took the Swifts all the way to Northern Region Football League (NRFL) Division 1, before hauling Tauranga City United to the NRFL Premier League from Division 2 in three seasons.


The remaining Premiership matches were far tighter, with Waikato Unicol's 3-1 win at Otumoetai the only other match that was decided by greater than a single goal margin. Strikes from Brook Melody, Luke Goodwin and Riku Soejima helped get Unicol's season off on a similar foot to 2017. Three points against a team whose pre-season form suggested they'd be another side to watch certainly would have eased any Unicol nerves.

Last year's runners-up Matamata Swifts didn't have things go anywhere near as well but won 2-1 at West Hamilton United's Weka Street in a fixture that was also the first Challenge Shield match of 2018.

Tauranga Boys' College and Melville United played out a thriller at Southey Field, with the Hamiltonians edging it 4-3 after a proper end to end encounter. Melville benefited from a couple of Boys' College own goals but also scored two of their own through Harry Coulson and Jordi Ditfort, while the hosts saw Oliver Harrop, Alexander Elliot and Scott Ellerington hit the back of the net.

The other two games were both 1-0 home victories. Mercury Tokoroa, the second promoted side, won a priceless three points over Tauranga Blue Rovers (previously Old Blues) at Strathmore Park. Te Awamutu snuck past Taupo thanks to Nathan Scott's effort.

Ngaruawahia United were the big winners with a 12-0 win over Matamata Swifts reserves at Centennial Park. Ngaruawahia, promoted to the Championship a season after pulling out of the NRFL, are plotting a return and couldn't have underlined their title credentials any better.

The other promoted side, Kawerau Sports, also began 2018 in solid manner beating Cambridge 3-1 at John Kerkhof Park.

In the other games, Tauranga Blue Rovers reserves won 6-1 at Te Puke United thanks largely to Mo Gunfield's hat-trick, while Waikato Unicol reserves won 4-1 in the early game at Otumoetai. Taupo's reserves ended up sitting the weekend out after Tauranga City's late withdrawal from the league.