The Whanganui men will go into their Queen's Birthday Weekend off knowing they have now all but qualified for the middle division of Hockey Manawatu after overwhelming an undermanned Marist B 8-1 on Saturday.
The Palmerston North club could only bring 10 players up to Gonville Domain for the opening game of the second round, while Whanganui had three extra on the bench and Colleen Baylis available to organise the shifts with her Whanganui women's team on their bye.
Totally on the defensive from the start, Marist B let Whanganui move the ball from the midfield onto attack with impunity, and the weight of possession and territory would tell as the hosts led 3-0 at quartertime.
Calum Wilbur made a good steal and worked the ball over to Tyler Nicol-Hylton to put in the opening goal, with the home side having plenty more chances as a long pass found one player right on the corner post, while Travis Bayler stopped another bullet but just didn't have the time to pivot and shoot before the defence batted the ball away.
Getting another corner chance, Whanganui worked a nifty back-and-forth passing exchange before original pass receiver Matt Forward took the shot to score.
Marist had a rare breakaway chance with two players to give an otherwise bored Whanganui goalkeeper something to do, before Bayler worked the ball back upfield and found Patrick Madder, who just put his shot wide.
Another long individual run from halfway saw the ball moved up to Josh McDonnell, who then found Nicol-Hylton for his double just before the break.
Whanganui would add only one goal in the second quarter through Jacob Moorehouse, while they were kept scoreless in the third quarter as Marist got their consolation goal.
However, being a man short meant they had tired by the final quarter, as Whanganui stepped up to fire home four more goals, which Wilbur said came "after they got a stern word from Colleen".
Bayler got a double, with Moorehouse adding to his tally and Kaelin Mooney finishing the game off.
Whanganui teams get home wins over wooden-spooners at Gonville
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"We carried on, in some ways, from the week before – attacking with shape and purpose," said Wilbur.
"[Marist] was parking the bus, but when you've got ten players for 70 minutes, what else are you going to do?
"They just didn't defend well enough to stop goals going in."
Whanganui extended their lead on top of Premier Reserve to seven points clear of Marton HC, who had a 2-2 draw with Massey Reserves, who are another point back in third.
Therefore, they would only need to win one of their remaining four games to finish in the Top 2, which will then combine with the Bottom 2 teams from Premier to form the middle division for the last round of games.
"We won't get too casual," Wilbur said.
The Hockey Manawatu grades are on break for the long weekend.