Shane Hurndel Former New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby flanker Tivaini Fomai has a lot to thank his instincts for.
He turned in a man-of-the-match performance as Havelock North captured the Nash Cup for the first time since 2003 with a 20-11 victory over defending champions Taradale at Nelson Park, Hastings on Saturday.
Whether it was on defence or attack, the 2003 New Zealand Secondary Schools openside flanker was in the right place at the right time on numerous occasions.
It was also his instinct which helped him decide to stick with Havelock North earlier this season when his good mate and fellow Hastings Boys' High School product Tafai Ioasa was encouraging him to join him at Hastings Rugby and Sports.
"My instinct told me to stay with Havelock and here Hika and I are helping them win the Nash Cup in our first year out of school. Hopefully the Maddison Trophy will be next," he said referring to another HBHS product and former New Zealand Secondary Schools teammate, Hika Elliot.
Havelock North coach Tom Blake was quick to suggest Fomai has to be the Kelt Capital Magpies No 7 this year. But Fomai was equally as quick to point out there is plenty of quality competition with the likes of fellow HBHS products Nui Bartlett, Karl Lowe and Ioasa.
"I'll just keep putting my hand up and see what happens," Fomai added as his instinct pointed him in the right direction again.
Taradale opened the scoring with a dropped goal to first five-eighth Daniel Waenga in the 11th minute but apart from some dominant set piece play were disappointing. Taradale were guilty of making silly mistakes, several of them forced by Fomai.
Outstanding Havelock defence gave little freedom to Taradale's dangerous backs centre Aaron Hamilton, winger Josh Mahoni and former Havelock fullback Ricky Blunsdon, who retired hurt with 22 minutes remaining.
Another to throw praise the way of Fomai, Taradale coach Keith Price, agreed his troops were unable to capitalise on opportunities they created.
"Havelock were hungrier than us today. But look for us in the Maddison Trophy round," he warned referring to the province's more prestigious club competition which begins next weekend.
Others to shine for Havelock included captain and second five-eighth Davis Norman and blindside flanker Adam Bradey. Flanker Nigel Walshe scored a hat-trick as Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports displayed huge improvement on recent weeks' form and walloped Napier Old Boys Marist 48-10 at Park Island in the playoff for third. Pirate coach Jon Matthews was quick to acknowledge his opponents were below-strength and he is expecting them to provide tougher opposition in the Maddison Trophy round.
United Gaming Hastings Rugby and Sports secured fifth place with their 31-17 win over Tamatea at Ellwood Park. Centre Ray Karauria, lock Daniel Davies and first five-eighth Johnny Muir were a prominent trio for the winners.
Captain and openside flanker Karl Lowe, centre Paul Bailey and lock Sven Hogenesch were again inspirational figures as Clive beat Central 28-18 in an entertaining playoff for seventh at Central Park. The score was 18-all with five minutes remaining.
Flanker Joe Taare and halfback BJ Hokianga were a dominant pair as MAC scored a surprisingly easy 34-12 win over Otane in the playoff for ninth at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park.
St John's College first five-eighth Greg Mullany kicked 20 points when Western Suburbs secured 11th place with a 25-21 victory over Napier Technical at Whitmore Park. Mullany kicked six penalties and a conversion for a side which produced its best defensive effort of the season.