Relegated former premier-grade Maddison Trophy champion clubs Napier Pirate and Havelock North bounced from win-less first rounds to kick-start their revivals with big victories as top grades championship round club rugby started in Hawke's Bay on Saturday.
Missing from the Maddison Trophy Premier competition for the first time in more than two decades, each had a home game in new second-level grade Division 1.
Pirate defeated previously-unbeaten Division 1 first round winners Maraenui 45-7 in front of possibly the day's biggest crowd at Tamatea Park, Napier, while Havelock North beat the Taradale Reserve team 88-5 at Anderson Park, Havelock North.
Pirate scored seven tries in leading their match 45-0 with 25 minutes remaining, before Maraenui got some reward with a converted try in the last quarter.
Meanwhile, Taradale's first XV – winners of the Nash Cup Premier first round final a week earlier - got their Maddison Cup campaign under way with a comfortable win, as did cup runners-up Hastings Rugby and Sports.
Taradale travelled to Flaxmere and scored seven tries to beat MAC 37-17 in a game notable for the conversion of just two of the match's 10 tries, and Hastings beat Waipukurau side Central 50-31 at Elwood Park, Hastings.
They bounced back from the surprisingly heavy final loss to Taradale on the same ground but clearly benefitting from the return of such players as Jacob Devery and Danny Toala, who each figured on the scoresheet.
Central rocked Hastings with an early try and while Hastings was quick to reply, with the first of their eight tries, the visitors kept in touch till the second half before the margin stretched past 10 points for the first time.
Similarly, Napier Old Boys Marist were rocked by an opening-minutes try to Hastings side Tamatea at Park Island's Tremain Field, in Napier, but had a much tougher job in holding-on to win 28-21.
It was 28-14 at halftime and Tamatea spent most of the rest of the game on attack deep in OBM territory, but managed just the one more converted try, capitalising immediately with OBM down to 14 players for 10 minutes.
Both sides copped penalties when hot an attack as the match came alive again in the closing minutes.
Bain Champion, in the OBM midfield, scored one of the tries and kicked all four of his side's conversions to become the first to hit 50 points in Premier rugby this season, with 54.
Napier Tech Old Boys staged a big home ground comeback from 28 points down at halftime but ultimately had to settle for their two bonus points against river club Clive, who won their match 40-33 at Whitmore Park, Napier.
Uniquely Tech outscored Clive five tries to four, but the game was won by the boot of Clive fullback Tianua Poto with 22 points from the boot with four penalties and conversions of all four tries, taking him rapidly to 52 points for the season.
Taradale meet OBM in a key match at Park Island next Saturday, Clive host Hastings at Farndon Park, Tamatea play Napier Tech OB in Hastings and Central have a home match against MAC.
Results of Saturday club rugby in Hawke's Bay:
Premier (Maddison Trophy first round):
Hastings Rugby and Sports 50 (Saifiti Saifiti 2, Thomas Agnew, Ioane Ioane, Danny Toala, Dennis Tapusoa, Jacob Devery, Eugene Sandilands tries; Danny Toala 3, Ioane Ioane 2 cons) Central 31 (Frank Lochore 2, Tom Parsons, Ruan De Lange tries; Harry Godfrey 3 pen, con. Halftime: 26-16.
Clive 40 (Lolagi Visinia 2, Te Aranga Hakiwai, Antony Wilson tries; Tianua Poto 4 pen, 4 con) Napier Tech Old Boys 33 (Ted Walters 2, Xavier McCorkindale, Manaaki Aranui, Kyle Cornelissen tries; Sheridan Rangihuna 4 con). Halftime: 33-5.
Napier Old Boys Marist (Dominic Devine 2, Ricky Hayes, Bain Champion tries; Champion 4 con) Tamatea 21 (Jordan Harmer 2, Elijah Mataira tries; Ash Robinson 3 con. Halftime: 28-14.
Taradale 37 (Dylan Ramsay 2, Nathan Tweedy, Karl Hewitt, Nathan Ramsay, Samuel Combs, Kienan Higgins tries; Cameron Robinson con) MAC 17 (Everard Reid 2, Maika Fehoko tries; Vailoa Kereti con). Halftime: 22-0.
Points: Taradale 5, Hastings 5, Clive 5, Napier OBM 5, Napier Tech OB 2, Tamatea 1, Central 1, MAC 0.
Division 1 (championship first round): Napier OBM 26 Otane 25, Napier Pirate 45 Maraenui 7, Havelock North 88 Taradale 5, Aotea 48 Napier Tech OB 0.
Points: Havelock North 5, Aotea 5, Napier Pirate 5, Napier OBM 5, Otane 1, Maraenui 0, Napier Tech OB 0, Taradale 0.
Division 2 (round 2): Hastings R&S 17 Havelock North 17, MAC. 43 Central 39, Waipawa Country United 36 Napier Pirate 34, Porangahau 63 Clive 5; Bridge Pa beat Eskview by default.
Points: Waipawa 10, MAC 10, Porangahau 8, Bridge Pa 8, Havelock North 7, Hastings R&S 7, Central 4, Napier Pirate 2, Eskview 0, Clive -5.
Division 3: Taradale 23 Clive 22, Havelock North 24 Flaxmere 5, Maraenui 52 Napier OBM 26, M.A.C a bye.
Points: Taradale win first round Maury Cody Cup.
Colts (second round, round 2): Clive 38 Onga-Tiko 31, Central 18 Napier Tech OB 12, Hastings R&S 29 Napier Pirate 3, Taradale 43 Aotea 10.
Points: Taradale 10, Central 9, Onga-Tiko 7, Hastings 5, Clive 5, Aotea 4, Napier Tech 2, Napier Pirate 0.
Women (Big Barrel Championship Cup, round 2: Hastings R&S 43 Taradale 0, Clive 26 Napier Tech OB 15.
Points: Clive 10, Hastings R&S 5, Napier Tech 5, Taradale 0.