Taradale have bounced back from an upset loss to Hastings with a convincing win at home at the weekend, led by their hard-working pack.
Taradale showed they had put last week's upset loss to Auto Super Shoppes Hastings clearly behind them with their 37-12 win over Andrew Clark Tremains Clive at Tareha Park.
The hosts were too strong up front with Magpies props Namatahi Waa and Joe Apikatoa leading the way. Taradale's pack suffocated Clive, not allowing their classy backs the freedom to get into the game.
Taradale manager Tim Combs singled out Magpies prop Waa, experienced midfielder Nathan Ramsey and dynamo flanker/hooker Toby Single as standouts on the day.
The team's focus now shifts to next week's big derby when Taradale host WIT Napier Old Boys Marist.
For Clive, Hurricane Jonah Lowe was dangerous with ball in hand while Lolagi Visinia looked threatening with limited chances.
Clive manager Dean Hales said poor discipline meant the team had to defend for long periods.
"Taradale were up for the challenge and didn't allow us to get going."
At Tremain Park, NOBM posted a cricket score in thrashing Tamatea 121-7.
NOBM coach Craig Gowler praised Tamatea's attitude.
"They never gave up and the score doesn't reflect how well they tried ... their positive talk under the posts was inspiring.''
NOBM were relentless running in 19 tries to one.
Gowler and his troops now look ahead to a clash with cross-town rivals Taradale in the feature match this weekend.
Meanwhile, Progressive Meats Havelock North endured their third consecutive loss and were well beaten by an unstoppable Hastings Rugby and Sports, 50-10.
Hastings manager James Rosenberg felt his side "used the wind well in the first half and played smart rugby. We put the ball in behind them and pressured them into making mistakes".
"Our defence was again top-notch ... (there is) still plenty to work on for Tech next week where Ausage Fomai will play his 100th game for the club.''
Rosenberg said Jardine Chung Ching was the side's player of the day with his "huge work rate and outstanding defence the key to the win".
Others to shine included the form halfback of the competition, Connor McLeod, who scored twice in an outstanding match, and Hurricanes midfielder Danny Toala.
Havelock North manager Richard Kinnear said Hastings deserved the tag of favourites to win this competition "due to their defence and ability to take their opportunities on offer''.
"We have to learn at being patient and earning the right to go wide.''
Players to impress Kinnear were No 8 Willy McGoon, lock Ben Morgan and ex Magpie winger Trinity Spooner- Neera.
Altherm Window Solutions Napier Tech had to hold on to beat host Northfuels Central 31-20 in a fiery encounter at Rugby Park.
In a match that saw an on-field brawl resulting in both sides receiving cards, including two reds, Napier Tech held their nerve when down to 13 players for the final 20 minutes to secure the result.
For Tech, Te Rangi Fraser had a strong all-round game in attack and finding gaps in opposition defence at will.
NZ Sevens star Kurt Baker, a new Magpies signing, scored an outstanding individual try in his debut for his new club.
Tech manager Cyril Whitburn said the game was a "stop-start affair with numerous penalties and sin bins which detracted from what started out being a great game''.
Central will be disappointed with this result but will look ahead to MAC on Saturday knowing they have played some great rugby in patches, but will need to start stringing 80 minutes together.