Rob Evans' broken thumb is a huge blow for Central but just a minor setback in his quest to regain a Magpies jersey.
The 2003 Kelt Capital Magpies player of the year, who missed all of last season while recovering from a broken leg he damaged on the 2004 New Zealand Divisional XV's tour of Fiji, broke a thumb while captaining his Central side to a 42-9 win against Napier Technical on Saturday.
"Rob is out for six weeks at least ... it's a huge blow for us, particularly with Pirates and Taradale our next assignments," Central coach Robbie Hunter said after the fourth round Tui Nash Cup fixture at Waipukurau's Central Park.
Magpies coach Brendon Ratcliffe said Evans remained a serious contender for the Air New Zealand Cup premier division campaign.
"Rob and his clubmate Greg Fleming haven't missed a Magpies training session. They're performing well there and for their club and Rob will still have plenty of time to prove his fitness once that six-week period is up," Ratcliffe said.
Goalkicker Kevin Ward succeeded with all six of his attempts at goal for Central. Flanker Bryce Barr, halfback Jay Ruwhiu and fullback James Mackie were others to impress for the hosts.
First five Fabian Siania, who succeeded with three of his four attempts at goal, and No 8 Darren Deeley were the pick of the Tech players.
MAC added to Hunter's worries when they secured eighth equal place on the points table courtesy of an entertaining 29-25 win over Aotea at Nelson Park, Hastings. A 90m run away try to centre Paratene Edwards was a highlight for the hosts.
Fullback Andrew Taputoro, halfback Verdon Bartlett and No 8 Arapata Whaanga were others prominent in the victory.
"It was a game we should have won. They scored off our mistakes ... it was a great game for the crowd but not for me," said Aotea coach Carl Withey.
Loose forwards Raniera Hauiti and Joe Clarke, first five Nigel Castles and captain and centre Jearrad Stephenson were his best players.
Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports produced some classy patches in their 54-17 victory over Clive at Park Island. The Pirate pack demolished Clive's and the hosts' backline relished this dominance.
Winger Karl Mudzamba scored two entertaining tries off clever kicks ahead from first five-eighth Aayden Clarke who was well served by halfback Chad Shepherd. Centre Ben Allen also collected two tries.
Although well outmuscled, Clive contributed to the spectacle and winger Piripi Moa's two tries were crackers. First five Brett Payne impressed with his ability to find holes in the defensive line.
Defending champions Progressive Meats Havelock North maintained their unbeaten run with a convincing 31-3 win over a disappointing Tamatea outfit at Bill Mathewson Park. Centre Andy Barham, who scored two tries, No 8 Luke Ottley and winger Levi Armstrong were valuable contributors to the victory.
In-form Napier Old Boys Marist first five Matt Berquist aggravated a groin injury in a 20-15 loss to Taradale at Carters Arms Park and will be out for at least a fortnight. Veteran lock Alan Gardiner, prop Christian Pera and midfielder Shane Lui were NOBM's best against a Taradale side who maintained their unbeaten run in front of a club-day crowd. Props Ian Baty and Josh Maynard did well at on the set pieces in the winning pack, while first five Ryan Lewis used his experience well.
New Zealand Sevens captain Tafai Ioasa was inspirational as United Gaming Hastings Rugby and Sports returned to form with a 62-7 drubbing of Otane at Elwood Park. Wingers Dan Stemp and Ray Karauria grabbed four and three tries respectively, with one of Stemp's a 70m.
"We battled bravely but were outclassed," said Otane coach Dawson Apiata.