Napier Old Boys Marist captain and No 8 Matt Gardner was a man of mixed emotions after his side ended Taradale's unbeaten run for the season in Hawke's Bay's premier club rugby competition on Saturday.
Gardner agreed with WIT Napier Old Boys Marist head coach Craig Gowler that their team's 34-29 Tui Maddison Trophy second round win at Park Island "was one hell of a game and a great advertisement for club footy in the Bay". But Gardner was also quick to point out he could easily have been responsible for losing the game because of his sinbinning in the 63rd minute for retaliation and also with his decision to turn down an easy three points in front of the posts at the business end of the game.
"Perhaps I'm getting too old for 80 minutes these days and I needed that breather in the bin," Gardner quipped.
"I'm sure a few of the supporters will remind me about that penalty kick I turned down too but what an effort. The composure we displayed to come back after they capitalised on our mistakes in the first half. We discussed at halftime Taradale's 22-7 lead wasn't enough for them," Gardner added.
Halfback Zac Donaldson was a key architect in the victory and his first five-eighth Johnny Lauano had his best outing of the season. Openside flanker Pouvi Fatialofa again proved why he boats the nickname Three Lungs with his massive workrate.
"We knew we had to build patience and let mistakes happen. We didn't want to try and force mistakes," Gowler said.
Taradale Rugby and Sports captain and lock Andrew Gardner was inspirational. Loosies Cristobal Niedmann and Iakapo Mapu left no stone unturned in the quest for an 11th consecutive victory. Halfback Humphrey Sheild and second five-eighth Nathan Ramsay were the best of the Taradale backs.
"We lacked the intent they showed in the first 20 and there was another period in the second half when the boys watched themselves rather than stay involved. It was a good learning curve for us and NOBM deserved their win," Taradale co-coach Tim Combs added.
Tech 24 Clive 21
Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical gave lock Elijah Martin a winning 50th appearance with this Whitmore Park victory.
His Texans led 14-0 at halftime but with five minutes remaining trailed 21-14. Tech manager Cyril Whitburn said losing Tonga outside back Penikolo Latu with a broken wrist was a huge blow to the team.
Loosies Slayde Lange and Trent Boswell-Wakefield impressed with their contributions at the coalface and fullback Michael Fox displayed plenty of enterprise in the winning backline. Tremains Andrew Clark Clive head coach Vaine Maui said his troops didn't capitalise on their chances in the first half.
Blindside flanker Joseph Fuimaono was again outstanding for the defending champions. Second five-eighth Jesse Tuhua always carried with purpose and defended well while substitute first five-eighth Tianua Poto controlled play well in his first outing after recovering from a shoulder injury.
MAC 32 Pirate 17
New Zealand under-20s captain and hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes had 50 minutes in his first starting appearance for MAC in this Tamatea Park win.
MAC head coach Anthony Morley was impressed with how his forward pack dominated the collision area. Loosies Solomone Funaki, Fa'alemiga Selesele and captain Willie Benson were full of authority. The visitors experienced midfield combination of Vai Kereti and Lewis Marshall functioned well and fullback Tom Iosefo was classy.
"We let them get away to too good of a start and they led 20-3 at halftime. We played well in the second half but the damage was done in the first," Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports manager Charles Reid said.
Tighthead prop Kelsey Miller was the pick of the Pirate players in his first starting XV appearance after returning from the Taradale club. Captain and No 8 Hamish Willis and openside flanker Damien Scott also provided plenty of grunt to the host pack.
Hastings 66 Tamatea 0
Hurricanes extended squad member Danny Toala scored 26 points for Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports in this Bill Mathewson Park drubbing.
First five-eighth Toala scored two of the visitors 10 tries and converted eight of them. Flankers Fale Matamata and Jardine Chung Ching and lock Danya Tulou led the Hastings pack by example. Centre Tommy Agnew and halfback Jayden Rihia operated with distinction in the winning backline.
Openside flanker Aso Newton, former Magpies prop Mason Kean and winger Braxton Robinson shone with their never-say-die approach for Tamatea.
Havelock North 14 Central 11
International referee Rebecca Mahoney was praised by both camps after this nail biter at Waipukurau's Central Park.
The former Black Ferns and Hawke's Bay Tui first five-eighth proved why she is highly regarded on the international stage with a classy display. Progressive Meats Havelock North manager Gary Revell was thrilled with the improved defensive work his troops displayed after the previous week's loss to Hastings.
"Central put us under the pump and turned down the opportunity to draw. Credit to them for going for the win just like us," Revell said.
Tighthead prop Tuaniu Tuaniu and No 8 Alby Hemopo were prominent in the villagers pack. Fullback Mikey Vuicakau again displayed the benefits of his vast experience.
Northfuels Central manager Ian Large said the hosts fought hard and were unlucky not to snatch a win.
"We were camped inside Havelock's 22 for the last 15 minutes, awarded eight penalties and still could not get over the line."
Centre Travis Janssen and winger Karl Lepelaars made the most of their opportunities in the Central backline. Tighthead prop Joel Hintz was a workaholic for the entire match.