Central manager Ian Large had every right to be buzzing after All Black Brodie Retallick's appearance at his club's Robbie Barr Memorial Day on Saturday.
"We had a huge crowd turn out, Brodie played 55 minutes and our win was a good send off for our coaches Exham Wichman and Brad Higgs who are both retiring," Large said after Northfuels Central's 26-15 ninth round Tui Maddison Trophy victory against Tremains Andrew Clark Clive at Central Park.
Retallick, who returned to Super Rugby four weeks ago after two months on the sideline with a wrist injury, declared himself ready for international play afterwards.
"The wrist is pretty good, it's all healed up and in a good spot. I had a good few days in camp with the All Blacks before coming down here and when I get back up there I'll be telling them I'll be ready for the first game later this month," Retallick said.
"It's been nine years since I last played for Central and it was awesome to get back out there with them again and today was a special day," he said referring to former Central player Barr who died in 2014 after a building accident.
"Robbie did a lot for me when I first moved up here and I used to flat with him," Retallick recalled.
The International Rugby Board's 2014 player of the year who has played 75 matches for the All Blacks predicted a big future for promising 19-year-old Clive lock Donovan Mataira.
"I'm sure he will have a big career in the game but the whole Clive pack went well. Central's tries had to be scored through the backs," Retallick said.
Clive head coach Vaine Maui said everything Retallick did on the field was amazing.
"Our boys will remember this day for the rest of their lives."
Openside flanker McKenzie Smith and promising loosehead prop Cam Pratt had massive workrates in the Central pack. Centre Travis Janssen and winger Mathias Konia, who both scored two tries, were classy out wide.
Mataira, Liam Udy-Johns who had stints at openside flanker and second five-eighth and scored two tries and loosehead prop Zac Southwick were the best of the Clive players. All three were members of the Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV last year and Maui has been impressed with how they've handled the step up to premier club play.
NOBM 133 Tamatea 7
WIT Napier Old Boys Marist proved why they are the top qualifiers for next weekend's semifinals with this Bill Mathewson Park drubbing.
This is the fourth highest score in the history of Hawke's Bay's premier club competition. In 2005 Hastings Rugby and Sports walloped MAC 165-0, in 2003 MAC thrashed Maraenui 138-12 and in 2009 Taradale thrashed MAC 137-0.
"The match was played in good spirit and I've got so much respect for Tamatea as they never gave in," NOBM head coach Craig Gowler said.
"We didn't want to default and we never gave up. Barney had a heart attack last week and has been on life support. He hasn't given up and we didn't want to give up for him," Tamatea head coach Levi Armstrong said referring to former Tamatea player Barney Winitana, the father of former Tall Blacks and Hawks basketballer Paora Winitana who has also played for Tamatea.
Injuries and illness ruled out six of NOBM's regular starters. Regular backs Michael Buckley and Migao Lauano both performed admirably as flankers and centre Stacey Ili was the best of the Green Machine's backs. First five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie, openside flanker Jimi Harris and tighthead prop Mason Kean were the pick of the Tamatea players.
Taradale 36 Havelock North 12
Taradale Rugby and Sports secured their home semifinal against Hastings Rugby and Sports with this victory on home turf.
"Havelock North brought the game to us and we probably kicked too much ball away initially. Once we held on to the ball and got into our shape we got our momentum back," Taradale co-coach Tim Combs said.
Props Jody Allen, who had his best game of the season, and Namatahi Waa were inspirational in a dominant Taradale scrum. Winger Ashton Tuck and fullback Junior Malielegaoi were enterprising Taradale backs.
Outside backs Jesse Paewai and Will McGoon joined lock Patrick Allen on Progressive Meats Havelock North manager Gary Revell's MVP list. The villagers will play NOBM in their semifinal at Park Island next weekend.
Hastings 33 Pirate 17
Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sport showcased their depth during this Tamatea Park win.
"We had three or four players on the injured list and another three or four out with the flu so it was good to get the win in the manner we did. It was a bit scrappy at times and we did make poor options but our defence was good. We were able to bring the likes of Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Folau Fakatava and Neria Fomai on after 50 minutes," Hastings manager James Rosenberg explained.
Powerful No 8 Danya Tulou and midfielders Antonio Mikaele-Tu'u and Tom Agnew all featured on Rosenberg's MVP list. Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports manager Charles Reid said poor ball security let his troops down at times but there was some solid defensive work and good commitment in their final outing of the season.
Busy No 8 Tom Nicol and loosehead prop Matt Martin were workaholics in the Pirate pack. First five-eighth Zion Clarke and winger Tione Hubbard made the most of their opportunities in the hosts backline.
MAC 49 Tech 34
MAC head coach Anthony Morley said this Whitmore Park display secured fifth place on the points table and was a good indication of their season.
"Our loss to Clive earlier in the season cost us a semifinal finish but we've finished on a high and we've got a good base for next year."
Loosie Fa'alemiga Selesele, hookers Damarus Hokianga and Frank Tupuola and Paula Latu, who had stints at No 8 and tighthead prop, all had huge workrates in the winning pack.
Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical manager Cyril Whitburn said the hosts did well to establish a 31-14 halftime lead but didn't fire a shot in the second half. Lock Elijah Martin and flanker Trent Boswell-Wakefield led the Texans pack by example and halfback Leighton Shaw deserved his 14 points from a try, three conversions and a penalty.