Horowhenua-Kāpiti prop Scott Cameron might have needed medical attention from injuries inflicted by his own teammates after his side beat a gallant East Coast at Levin Domain 38-31 this afternoon.
The veteran prop was slapped on the back so hard by his follow forwards as they gained scrum ascendancy, it was lucky referee Fraser Hannon didn't get involved.
The huge East Coast pack had the HK scrum back-peddling on occasion in the first half - only the rugby gods might have understand the permutations of that - but Cameron's second-half injection was obviously credited by his peers as having added some oomph.
Twice in the second half the front rows popped as the huge East Coast pack backpedalled, giving possession and momentum back to HK - key moments in an exciting and even game.
HK halfback Jack Tatu-Robertsson opened the scoring in the fifth minute with an easy penalty from the 22m mark, reciprocated a few moments later by East Coast first five-eight Rapata Haerewa with an equally easy equaliser at the other end.
Then came some naughty stuff, which had referee Hannon reaching for the yellow card three times in as many minutes.
The transgressors were HK centre Tautau Kapea (dangerous tackle), East Coast number eight Hone Haerewa (retaliating to that Kapea tackle), while three minutes later East Coast lock Faifili Levave's misdemeanour was a high shot.
East Coast were looking dangerous but with two men in the bin they were always going to be vulnerable, and form HK hooker Bryn Gordon barged over for his second try in three games, converted by Tatu-Robertsson.
With halftime approaching and the score at 17-3 it looked as though the game might lose some lustre. But cue some East Coast ticker, and back to their full compliment of players they bounced back with a try under the posts to openside flanker William Bolingford.
The visitors ran to the changing rooms with purpose once Haerewa converted the Bolingford try, still in the game with the halftime score at 17-10.
That East Coast momentum was immediately there again at the restart, with prop Jodi Tuhaka almost smiling as he walked straight through the middle of a ruck and found nobody home.
Tuhaka pumped his legs and leap-frogged the cover tackle of HK fullback Hamish Buick to barge over for what was a brilliant solo effort, and all of a sudden the score was 17-15.
HK needed to answer back, and they did. Tatu-Robertsson made a break, handed it to loose forward Kolonio Koto who sent hard running number eight Benedict Grant in for a try, which Tatu-Robinson converted from the sideline.
The boot of Haerewa kept East Coast in touch with a penalty in the 53rd minute to bring the score to 24-18, and another in the 60th minute and it was game on at 24-21.
Then cue some clear HK scrum dominance, and a brilliant run from exciting young HK winger Louie Tovo, who was fearless as he jinked and jived through heavy traffic before putting his foot on the accelerator for a well-deserved try. Tatu-Robertsson converted.
East Coast, with the score at 31-21 and with 15 minutes remaining, still believed they could win. As gaps started to open up, winger Ngarohi Mcgarvey-Black got his big legs pumping and couldn't be stopped.
The conversion missed, but the game was anyone's at 31-26.
The excitement continued when HK fullback Buick drove over with five minutes left, converted by Tatu-Robertsson, at HK looked home at 38-26.
But a never-say-die East Coast team would not lay down, and when replacement winger Teina Potae barged over in the corner not long after the restart, they were still in the game at 38-31.
With time up on the clock East Coast were in possession and still capable of salvaging a draw, but in their attempt to go the length of the field there was knock on, and Hannan's final whistle blow brought to an end a fine match.
The win was HK's third on the trot as they announce themselves as a team to be wary of at the very least, and perhaps even a genuine title contender.
East Coast showed enough to suggest they could topple any team. They perhaps didn't attend to the micro-details as well as their opposition, but a win would not have been unjust.
Boiling it down to bones, HK scored five tries to East Coast's four, and the accurate boot of Tatu-Robertsson was a huge asset for the home side.
It was a good game of rugby to watch. It was just a shame no-one was there to see it, under Covid-19 Alert Level 2.
Horowhenua-Kāpiti 38 (H Buick, L Tovo. B Gordon, B Grant, L Tovo tries, Jack Tatu-Robertsson 5 con, 1 pen).
East Coast 31 (N Mcgarvey-Black, W Bolingford, J Tuhaka, T Potae tries, Rapata Haerewa 3 pen 1 con).