Auto Super Shoppes Hastings Rugby and WIT NOBM were at their clinical best, but Taradale stayed clear at the top of the table in the Maddison Trophy standings after the latest round of club rugby on Saturday.
HRS 61 – MAC 6
Magpies prop Jason Long, who continues his outstanding run of scoring tries this season, showed his durability for Auto Super Shoppes Hastings Rugby and Sports as he became the club's most capped player in his 139th appearance.
In a game billed as one of the weekend's key fixtures, Long scored two tries in 61-6 win for HRS against Enviro Clean and Restoration MAC in the match at Elwood Park. HRS flexed their muscle, pulling away after 20 minutes and showed their desire to go one better than last season's agonising overtime defeat in the Maddison Trophy final.
MAC manager Anthony Morley noted that that the aim of gaining a semifinal position might have slipped away.
"MAC were guilty of missing too many first tackles and lacked the necessary firepower to finish a number of promising movements," Morley said.
"HRS need to be commended for their clinical dominance."
Morley acknowledged the efforts of prop Paula Latu, who provided an outstanding all-round performance, carrying the ball well and remaining strong in defence.
HRS manager James Rosenburg was happy with how his team was getting better each week and pleased by the goal line defence in particular. He said forwards and backs had linked well to score some long-range tries.
Rosenburg singled out prop Dennis Tapusoa as his pick of the forwards with strong scrummaging and an excellent work rate. The addition of Magpie and Hurricane Danny Toala added to the class in the backs.
TECH 33 - TAMATEA 10
At Whitmore Park, a slick Altherm Window Solutions Tech backline had the Texans on top of a spirited Tamatea side before unfortunately the match was called off 20 minutes into the second half after Tamatea substitute forward Colin Mataira suffered a heart attack. He was transported to hospital.
Tech made the most of their opportunities, finishing some well-worked tries during the first half, their backline worked well together off the back of a solid forward display.
The Tamatea side didn't present so many opportunities but did well to hold onto the ball and get themselves into Tech territory. However, they were unable to crack the defence until just prior to the game being called off, when they finally took an opportunity with first five Ash Robinson able to score.
For Tech wine Penikolo Latu put in some massive hits and brutal runs also linking with his teammates including former All Black Zac Guildford, who looked good playing at centre.
The Tech scrum was dominant through impressive prop Tim Farrell. No 8 Hannon Brighouse continues his excellent form for Tech with some strong runs and great work rate.
Tamatea manager Riki Kirikiri noted Tawhiti Lambert as one of their best, the Tamatea loose forward trio were aggressive on attack and defence and midfield back Dennon Robinson continues to impress.
PIRATES 5 - CLIVE 38
New Magpies signing Lolani Visinia displayed his full array of skills for Clive to show why he is such a coup for the Magpies in the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup.
Playing centre alongside his brother and captain, Sebastian, Visinia was dangerous every time he had the ball, breaking tackles and setting up his outsides on his way to scoring two superb tries.
Hurricane winger Jonah Lowe combined well with his new teammate and also crossed for two tries.
Clive manager Dean Hales felt the side "played well in stages today, but we still lacked the patience to execute correctly. However, we will take the points and look forward to next week".
In addition to the Visinia brothers, Hales said others to shine were lock Donovan Mataira and tough loosie Rocky Pohatu.
Pirates manager Derek Paenga lamented another slow start that saw Clive score twice within the first 10 minutes, allowing the impressive visiting backline to cause havoc.
The loss of promising midfielder Tyrone Dodd-Edwards with what looked like a serious leg injury didn't help their cause.
Paenga named experienced front-rower Mathew Martin as the Pirates' best while loosies Tom Nicol and skipper Damien Scott never stopped tackling.
TARADALE 51 - HAVELOCK NORTH 22
In one of the weekend's key games, Taradale Rugby and Sports visited Anderson Park to take on Progressive Meats Havelock North and spoiled Havelock North winger Mikey Vuicakau's 100th-match celebrations.
Vuicakau, unfortunately, left the field with a fractured arm in the second half.
Taradale's Magpie contingent performed strongly with openside flanker Iakopo Mapu prominent and first five-eighth Caleb Makene directing play well.
Taradale are four points clear in the Maddison Trophy standings leaving coach Tim Combes happy.
"The tight five performed well and laid a solid platform in the set-piece allowing our backs to benefit with fast, clean ball.
"There was a lot of action in this entertaining game in front of a large crowd watching on a beautiful winter's day."
For Havelock North, the performances of halfback Trent Hape and No 8 Albert Hemopo were the pick.
NOBM 71 – CENTRAL 7
At Tremain Field, reigning champions WIT NOBM were simply too clinical for Northfuels Central, running away with a 71-7 victory.
The hosts, playing a high-tempo game, were relentless as they attacked from all parts of the ground, scoring 11 tries in the process.
For NOBM, loose forwards Ricky Hayes, Chris Johnson and Will Tremain were all outstanding while centre George Stratton again looked like a player with potential, making a couple of shuddering tackles on his opposites.
For Central, Highlanders-bound lock Tom Parsons put in a polished shift befitting a super rugby player while loose forward Frank Lochore never gave up in a beaten pack.