Napier Technical utility back Leighton Shaw was never a fan of secondary schools rugby during his days at Napier Boys' High School.
"I was good enough to play at second XV level but I was more focused on playing premier rugby for Tech because all of my JAB rugby was played at the club. I spent three seasons training with the premiers and this is my first season playing for them," 18-year-old Shaw explained after Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical scored their first win in the Tui Nash Cup with a sixth round 76-22 drubbing of Tamatea at Whitmore Park on Saturday.
He scored 21 points with a try and eight conversions from 12 attempts at goal. He also impressed with his distribution and defensive work.
"I prefer fullback and I've also played first five-eighth. But with our No 1 halfback [Stuart Young] injured it's looks like I'll be staying there. It also looks like I'm the No 1 goalkicker too and I don't mind those duties. I think we've turned the corner and with guys like Penikolo Latu coming back we're only going to get better," Shaw added.
Tongan international Latu, playing at centre, scored Tech's first three tries and combined well with player-of-the-match, second five-eighth Ted Walters. Hooker Conan Houkamau and captain and lock Elijah Martin were inspirational in the cohesive host pack.
Tamatea produced some memorable patches and coach Levi Armstrong believed Latu was the difference between the two teams. On his 30th birthday loosehead prop Fred Jackson had his best match of the season for the visitors.
Blindside flanker Buffy Wainohu was a workaholic and he dedicated his display to sister Leonora Paul who died the previous day. Magpies first five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie, who has been called into the Highlanders squad as injury cover, and winger Puk Kireka were the best of the Tamatea backs.
Pirate 20 Havelock North 20
Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports manager Charles Reid was proud of the grit and determination his troops displayed when they recovered from a 12-3 halftime deficit to secure this Tamatea Park draw.
"Havelock had us out wide but we had some good impact off the bench in the second half," Reid said.
Centre Graeme Tryon produced a player-of-the-match performance on debut for the hosts. Openside flanker Damian Scott and loosehead prop Lance Tupaea were influential figures in the Pirate pack. Progressive Meats Havelock North halfback Trent Hape was again busy.
Openside flanker Jacob Stephenson and lock Patrick Allen were prominent in the visiting pack.
Hastings 50 MAC 18
Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports second five-eighth Neria Fomai scored a hat-trick in the first 25 minutes of this Elwood Park encounter.
The former Southland Stags midfield back is displaying the benefits of his summer trials with the Warriors NRL club in Auckland and will be a serious contender for a Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad berth this season.
Halfback Enoka Chung Ching and Hurricanes squad member Danny Toala, who had stints at first five-eighth and fullback, also impressed in the winning backline while co-captain and loosehead prop Jason Long shone with his workrate.
Hastings manager James Rosenberg was happy with the improved discipline levels of his troops and the communication and line speed on defence in the second half. Former Olympic Games swimmer Willie Benson had a huge defensive workrate in the openside flanker's role for MAC.
First five-eighth Marty Watson and centre Penetana Smith also made MAC head coach Anthony Morley's MVP list.
"We dropped a lot of ball while Hastings converted their opportunities," Morley said.
NOBM 42 Clive 21
Defending champions WIT Napier Old Boys Marist head coach Craig Gowler was proud of the manner his troops returned to the winning path with this Farndon Park victory.
"We had 10 regular out, seven injured and three away, so the players who filled in for them stepped up well. It was an entertaining fixture thanks to referee Hugh Reed who let it flow," Gowler said.
Blindside flanker Sean Skeet produced a player-of-the-match display for the visitors. Hooker Jack Nelson-Murray again boxed above his weight for the Green Machine while centre Saia Paese was lethal in the winning backline.
Tremains Andrew Clark Clive head coach Vaine Maui said his troops paid the price for crucial missed tackles in the first half when they allowed NOBM to establish a 28-7 halftime lead. Loosehead prop Zac Southwick and captain and blindside flanker Lucas Goodin provided plenty of grunt to the host pack.
In his 100th outing for the Maddison Trophy holders second five-eighth Jesse Tuhua was the best of the backs.
Taradale 54 Central 20
Taradale Rugby and Sports maintained their lead in the competition with this comfortable win at Waipukurau's Central Park.
Hooker Toby Single and Chilean openside flanker Cristobal Niedmann were a dynamic duo in the Mighty Maroons pack. First five-eighth Brad Truesdale again directed the backline well and converted eight of the visitors tries.
Northfuels Central manager Ian Large said the hosts were jaded after three consecutive wins and also missed several key players. But at the same time he was impressed with how well drilled Taradale were and the impact their big ball carriers made.
Hooker Travis Taylor and tighthead prop Marcus Jackson were gutsy in the host pack. Consistent centre Travis Janssen was again enterprising in the Central backline.