Taradale and Hastings Rugby and Sports lurched closer to a Maddison Trophy finals showdown as each claimed maximum points for the fourth time in four games in the Hawke's Bay Premier rugby championship on Saturday.
But it wasn't all plain sailing, with Taradale needing a late try at home to beat Napier Tech Old Boys 33-29 at Tareha Reserve, while Hastings R&S took a battering in defence before claiming a 29-26 away win over Napier Old Boys Marist at Park Island, Napier.
With three rounds to go, Clive moved into third place scoring seven tries in a classy 47-36 win over Central in Waipukurau and MAC won the Battle of Hastings bottom-of-the-table clash by beating Tamatea, 29-12.
Tech started refreshingly well at Taradale and went 5-0 up as wing Wesley Akeripa scored the first of the five tries that helped Tech get two bonus points, despite the defeat.
It was 12-5 to Taradale at halftime but even down 28-10, Tech gave themselves a chance and took it with three tries to lead 29-28 near the end of a second half which also featured a red card on each side.
Down to 14, first-round Nash Cup winners Taradale rallied to score the final points to keep their Maddison Trophy record intact, while Tech now sit fifth on the table, still in the race thanks to scoring four tries in defeat for the third time, part of a bonus haul of six points in four matches.
No 8 Iakopo Mapu scored one of Taradale's five tries and now heads the Premier rugby try-scoring table outright with 11 for the season.
Hastings at times looked too good for Marist, but it remained close, at 17-14 at halftime and no margin wider than the 22-14 scoreline early in the final quarter. OBM scored next with a converted try to close it to a single point.
Each side scored once more, halfback Connor McLeod adding a third conversion to help the Hastings buffer, and it was a tough run to the line after wing Josh McIntyre scored the last try for the home side
First five-eighths Bain Champion scored a try and kicked 11 points for OBM, taking him to 86 points for the season.
Central were down 28-3 to Clive late in the first half of their match but came back well and, at 42-36 with 10 minutes to go, it was suddenly anyone's game - until Clive scored the last of their tries. Fullback Tianua Poto scored one and kicked six conversions, a haul of 17 points for the day to go to 81 for the season, and young Central star Harry Godfrey also scored a try and kicked 11 points.
The top two sides each have away games this Saturday, with Hastings travelling inter-city again to play the feature match in Tech's centenary celebrations at Whitmore Park and Taradale travelling to Farndon Park to play the home team, Clive.
Tamatea, still without a win in the Maddison Trophy round after winning three from five in Nash
Cup rugby earlier in the season, have a home-match advantage against Central in Hastings and OBM have a second match at home in a row playing Hastings side MAC.
Havelock North's hopes of an early return to Premier rugby grew with a 24-14 Senior 1 win over Aotea and Dannevirke, and fellow-relegated side Napier Pirate scored an important 33-23 win over Napier OBM Reserves to keep their hopes alive.
Meanwhile the scene is set for one of the biggest annual matches in Hawke's Bay outside of the Magpies schedule, with the Napier and Hastings Boys' high schools first XVs meeting in their Super 8 Championship second-round match at Napier Boys' High School on Saturday.
Each had wins in the opening round at the weekend, with Napier beating Gisborne Boys' High School 27-20 in Gisborne, and Hastings BHS beating Palmerston North BHS 23-13 in Hastings.
Lindisfarne kept in touch with the upper level of the ladder in the Central North Island schools competition, beating Francis Douglas 47-18 in New Plymouth and St John's College were beaten 26-14 in Hastings by visitors Wesley College from Counties-Manukau.
Results of Hawke's Bay club rugby matches on Saturday:
Premier – Maddison Trophy
Hastings Rugby and Sports 29 (Saifiti Saifiti 2, Ausage Fomai, Jacob Devery tries; Connor McLeod pen, 3 cons) Napier Old Boys Marist 26 (Duff Penitito, Bain Champion, Josh McIntyre tries; Champion 3 pen, con). Halftime: 17-14
Taradale 33 (Hamaua Samasoni, Gene Syminton, Iakopo Mapu, Angelo Muufana, Kienan Higgins tries; Brad Truesdale 4 cons) Napier Tech Old Boys 29 (Wesley Akeripa, Mark Braidwood, Tamati Samuels, Jayden Stok, Bel Lewis tries; Xavier McCorkindale 2 cons). Halftime: 14-5.
Clive 47 (Anzelo Tuitavuki 2, Tianua Poto, Antony Wilson, Josh Kaifa, Trent Hape, Nicholas Agnew tries; Poto 6 cons) Central 36 (Thomas Fogarty 2, Tui Kuru, Warwick Slingsby, Harry Godfrey tries; Godfrey pen, 4 cons). Halftime: 28-3.
MAC 29 (Paula Latu 2, Roger Paewai, John Ika, Maika Fehoko tries; Zedekiah 2 cons) Tamatea 12 (Manahi Goulton, Elijah Mataira tries; Ash Robinson con. Halftime: 17-7.
Points: Hastings R&S 20, Taradale 20, Clive 14, Napier OBM 12, Napier Tech OB 10, MAC 7, Central 6, Tamatea 3.
Senior 1: Taradale 29 Otane 23, Napier Pirate 33 Napier OBM 23, Napier Tech OB 37 Maraenui 31, Havelock North 24 Aotea 14. Points: Havelock North 19, Aotea 14, Napier OBM 14, Napier Tech OB 12, Napier Pirate 10, Taradale 7, Otane 6, Maraenui 2.
Senior 2: Bridge Pa 27 Clive 17, Central 39 Havelock North 19, Hastings R&S 41 Napier Pirate 38, Waipawa Country United 28 Porangahau 17, MAC 47 Eskview 12. Points: MAC 25, Waipawa 24, Hastings 17, Central 16, Havelock North 15, Bridge Pa 15, Porangahau 12, Napier Pirate 10, Eskview 1, Clive -5.
Senior 3: Flaxmere 25 Havelock North 14, Clive 45 Napier OBM 31, Taradale 52 MAC10. Points: Clive 19, Taradale 17, Flaxmere 10, Maraenui 10, Havelock North 6, MAC 1, Napier OBM 1.
Colts: Hastings R&S 27 Clive 22, Napier Tech OB 56 Onga-Tiko 17, Central 38 Aotea 7, Taradale 36 Napier Pirate 10. Points: Central 24, Taradale 21, Clive 16, Hastings R&S S 14, Onga-Tiko 13, Napier Tech OB 7, Napier Pirate 5, Aotea 4.