IT'S tough to secure two consecutive player-of-the-match awards in Hawke's Bay's premier club rugby competition when you play in a side as good as Napier Old Boys Marist.
The fact WIT Napier Old Boys Marist halfback Zac Donaldson has done this and in the process was a key catalyst as the Green Machine ended Taradale Rugby and Sport's unbeaten run for the season with a 34-29 victory at Park Island on Saturday made Donaldson the logical choice as the 11th weekly winner in the battle to become the 2019 holder of the McDonald's Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year award.
More weight was added to the selection by Donaldson, 22, slotting into first equal place on the leaderboard alongside NOBM lock Sean Skeet and Clive lock Donovan Mataira.
"I was really proud of the team to come away with the win after trailing by 15 points at halftime in a match which went down to the wire," Donaldson recalled.
"Collectively it was one of the best performances the team has produced in my four seasons with the club ... an 80 per cent performance.
"There was a period just before halftime when we were waiting for the halftime whistle so we could turn around and have the wind behind us. We conceded some quick tries during that period but other than that it was a good effort."
While Donaldson had yet to analyse the match review yesterday he knew there were a couple of work ons for him.
"They're mainly around my passing, directing and organising."
Before the match Donaldson said organising the defensive line was a major focus for him and he was happy with the manner in which he ticked this off. Spectators were impressed how he and first five-eighth Johnny Lauano combined to give their outside backs plenty of opportunities.
For the second consecutive week NOBM will have a top-of-the-table assignment when they take on Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports at Elwood Park on Saturday.
"It's good to be able to maintain the intensity for consecutive weeks. It's important to muscle up against Hastings as they have a big pack like Taradale's and they're at home so it will be tough," Donaldson said.
A member of the St Pat's Town College 1st XV which won Wellington Secondary Schools premier title in 2015, Donaldson, said he is enjoying the Hawke's Bay lifestyle and his job as an apprentice with PWL Builders Ltd.
"They are pretty lenient when it comes to having time off for rugby. They also encourage a good work ethic and the need to keep active. Obviously there are some days when you arrive at training knackered but a lot of other tradies who play rugby are in the same position.
"There's also plenty of fun involved when you come up against tradies from other clubs on building sites."
NOBM head coach Craig Gowler believes Donaldson is ready to add to his one first class appearance made for the Magpies in 2017.
"Zac has learnt a lot off Ellery," Gowler said referring to his injured first string halfback and former Magpie Ellery Wilson.
"He is fortunate to have Ellery. Zac is a bit of a sponge who listens and takes stuff on board so he can make the most of his opportunities."
When asked who will get the start when Wilson returns from injury Gowler replied:
"It will be a horses for courses scenario aimed at giving us the mix required. They are both very supportive of each other."
Best & Fairest
NOBM v Taradale: 3, Zac Donaldson (NOBM); 2, Andrew Gardner (Taradale); 1, Johnny Lauano (NOBM).
MAC v Pirate: 3, Solomone Funaki (MAC); 2, Willie Benson (MAC); 1, Kelsey Miller (Pirate).
Havelock North v Central: 3, Tuaniu Tuaniu (Havelock North); 2, Travis Janssen (Central); 1, Albert Hemopo (Havelock North).
Hastings v Tamatea: 3, Fale Matamata (Hastings); 2, Tommy Agnew (Hastings); 1, Jardine Chung Ching (Hastings).
Tech v Clive: 3, Slayde Lange (Tech); 2, Joseph Fuimaono (Clive); 1, Michael Fox (Tech).
Leaderboard: 8pts: Zac Donaldson, Sean Skeet (both NOBM), Donovan Mataira (Clive). 7pts: Elijah Martin (Tech). 6pts: Iakopo Mapu, Humphrey Sheild (both Taradale), Slayde Lange (Tech), Pouri Rakete-Stones, Damien Scott (both Pirate). 5pts: Andrew Gardner, Eru Wano, Jacob Baker, Jordan Kupa, Toby Single (all Taradale), Liam Edwards, Matt Gardner (both NOBM), Jayden Rihia, Neria Fomai, Shamara Brooks (all Hastings), Jacob Stephenson (Havelock North), Lincoln McClutchie (Tamatea), Ton Iosefo, Willie Benson (both MAC).