One has to admire fullback Sam Weber's commitment to the Napier Old Boys Marist premier rugby team.
Weber, or The Gingerbread Man as he is nicknamed, finished his teaching job at St Patrick's School at the end of the term and since then has been living with his parents Neil and Ann in Mount Maunganui while he saves money before heading to Ireland on August 8 for a playing stint with the Dundalk club.
When he heard about WIT Napier Old Boys Marist's lengthy injury list in the countdown to the weekend's Tui Maddison Trophy semifinal against Taradale Rugby and Sports at Tareha Recreation Reserve he offered his services.
"I told the coaches to text me if they wanted me and I arrived in Napier an hour before training on Thursday," Weber recalled, after his player-of-the-match display in NOBM's 49-13 victory.
Weber, 24, sent winger Michael Buckley away for one of his two tries and produced two try-saving tackles on Taradale centre Kaleb Whakataka in the second half to extinguish the hosts' faint hopes of a comeback.
"I back my skills to give our outside players the ball. The more time they have it the prettier our team looks," Weber said.
He was rapt to turn on a winning display for his parents who arrived in Taradale in time for the game after watching older brother and former All Blacks halfback Brad Weber play for the Chiefs in their quarter-final loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday night.
"If I get the call I will be back for the final," Weber said, referring to Saturday's final against K9 Petfoods Clive at Park Island.
NOBM head coach Craig Gowler confirmed Weber's services will be required this week from training tomorrow night.
As the score suggests the defending champions were too classy for Taradale as they gave tighthead prop Terry Marsh a memorable 150th outing.
Their smaller pack was far more cohesive and accurate.
Regular loosie Willie Benson was outstanding in the hooking role and loosies Jack Nelson-Murray and captain Chris Johnston were dynamic.
Halfback Ellery Wilson impressed with his distribution and options while Buckley was always a threat.
First five-eighth Johnny Lauano scored 24 points with two tries and seven conversions from as many attempts in a tricky wind. Taradale's focus levels weren't as good as their visitors.
Captain and No 8 Andrew Gardner was again a workaholic.
Openside flanker Nathan Tweedy again proved why he was a contender for a Magpies Mitre 10 Cup contract and second five-eighth Nathan Ramsay was the pick of the Taradale backs.
"We were beaten by a better team. They were well drilled and took their opportunities. We had opportunities but didn't nail them ... dropped balls and turnovers let us down," Taradale assistant coach Mutu Ngarimu said and he was right.
Clive 32 Hastings 29
Referee Tipene Cottrell awarded a penalty try in injury time to give Clive this upset win against Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports at Elwood Park.
"The penalty try had to come, there were four or five scrums before it and our forwards were outstanding to be honest," delighted Clive head coach Vaine Maui said afterwards.
His troops led 11-3 at halftime but Hastings scored three quick tries after the interval to take the lead. Maui said his troops reacted by becoming more forward-orientated again and played with a bit more structure.
Tighthead prop Kereama Peni was Maui's pick for player-of-the-match. Peni's powerful carries, scrummaging and defensive workrate had Maui rolling out the superlatives.
"We were all full of confidence and that's how we played. We all did the business at scrum time," Peni said.
First five-eighth Tianua Poto, who succeeded with four of his five attempts at goal, and blindside flanker Josh Eden-Whaitiri were other influential figures in the win.
Hastings manager James Rosenberg said the loss of Magpies prop Jason Long with an ankle injury during the first five minutes was a huge blow. Discipline lapses also proved costly for the hosts.
Highlanders loosie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u was sinbinned in the first half and No 8 JosiahTavita-Metcalfe was sinbinned in the second half. At one stage the penalty count was 11-3 against Hastings.
Prop Aleki Vuki was busy in the Hastings engine room.
Fullback Ioane Ioane and winger Mason Emerson made the most of their limited opportunities out wide.