Maori All Black and Hurricanes rugby winger Jonah Lowe returned to play with his first outing of the season in Hawke's Bay's premier club competition on Saturday.
Lowe, 23, had been out of action for three months with a shoulder injury collected during a Hurricanes training session. While he hasn't played at Super level this season Lowe was outstanding for the Hurricanes development side earlier this year.
Tremains Andrew Clark Clive coach Vaine Maui gave Lowe 44 minutes off the subs bench at centre in his side's 26-14 Tui Maddison Trophy fifth round win against MAC at Farndon Park. Although Lowe, who has scored 77 points in 35 first class outings for the Magpies, didn't get a lot of attacking opportunities Maui said he proved he was ready fo the Hurricanes if required.
"We're rapt with his loyalty. Clive is his home club and he comes back as often as he can," Maui added.
Taking Lowe's limited rugby this winter into account Maui is likely to get more games out of him durng the coming weeks than the Hurricanes coaching staff will. Loosehead prop Rana Huata, openside flanker Liam Udy-Johns and winger Eti Collins all made Maui's MVP list.
"That game was there for the taking. We had our chances and blew a few opportunities which sums up our season," MAC head coach Anthony Morley lamented.
"We've got a lot of good individuals but the team connection is not always there. The players inability to follow a game plan proved costly," Morley added.
Tighthead prop Paula Latu and loosie Fa'alemiga Selesele were tireless workers in the MAC pack. Centre Lewis Marshall and fullback Tom Iosefo were full of enterprise out wide.
NOBM 67 Tech 13
WIT Napier Old Boys Marist centre Saia Paese took his season try tally to 17 with a hat-trick in this Whitmore Park victory.
"It wasn't all one-way traffic. We managed to get a bit of momentum going towards the end and take the game away from them," diplomatic NOBM head coach Craig Gowler said after his team's 11 tries to one romp.
While Paese was classy in the winning backline lock Dan Law and tighthead prop Patrick Teddy provided quality grunt to the Green Machine's engine room. Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical manager Cyril Whitburn admitted the Texans made too many mistakes and the visitors were too dominant throughout the match.
Lock Elijah Martin and hooker Conan Houkamau impressed with their never-say-die approach in the losing pack. Former Napier Boys' High School prop Manaaki Aranui made his premier debut as a substitute after Magpie Tim Farrell was forced off with an injury. First five-eighth Marty Watson was the best of the Tech backs.
Hastings 34 Central 25
Poor tactics denied Northfuels Central a bonus point at least in this Elwood Park defeat.
Far too often the visitors attempted to run the ball through their backline when they would have been better to keep it in the engine room in the difficult weather conditions. With the likes of prop Joel Hintz, hooker Travis Taylor, locks Ben and Tom Parsons and loosie Geoff Cridge the visiting pack was hard to halt when these lads were making cohesive charges up field as a unit.
Considering Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports were on the wrong end of an 18-10 penalty count they did well to secure the maximum five points. Hastings captain and loosehead prop Jason Long, who produced a player-of-the-match display, admitted frustration with referee Carl Jowsey's calls often got the better of his troops.
Fullback Penetana Smith had his best outing of the season and deserved his 24 point haul from three tries, three conversions and a penalty. Ash Robinson, a late replacement as the starting pivot, directed play well and hooker Jacob Devery was close behind Long as the best of the forwards.
Taradale 22 Pirate 8
Taradale Rugby and Sports co-coach Tim Combs was quick to praise Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports defence after this Mighty Maroons victory on home turf.
"Pirates defended well and in wet and slippery conditions we weren't as accurate as we would have liked to be," Combs said.
Blindside flanker Nathan Tweedy and looshead prop Lolani Faleiva were prominent in the host pack. Centre Ollie Sapsford again impressed in the Taradale backline.
Pirate manager Charles Reid said while his lads put their hearts on the line and defended well against the wind in the first half they didn't do enough when they had the wind in the second half.
Centre Hayden Hann was busy in the visiting backline while No 8 Hamish Willis and loosehead prop Lance Tupaea were prominent in the Pirate pack.
Havelock North 43 Tamatea 18
Winger Jesse Paewai was outstanding in his 50th appearance for Progressive Meats Havelock North in this Anderson Park victory.
Paewai scored two tries and was a rock on defence. Lock Phil McRoberts and No 8 Albert Hemopo were again inspirational in the villagers pack.
Tamatea did well to lead 13-0 after 30 minutes and 13-12 at halftime but leaked a couple of tries while industrious openside flanker Aso Newton was in the sinbin for the final five minutes of the first half and first five of the second.
Magpies first five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie scored a brilliant try and impressed with his chat in the halfback role. Regular loosie Sheridan Kite played well as a winger for a side which again only had 19 players and had to play veteran frontrower Te Maangi Hamlin for 70 minutes.