Tauranga Sports have made a dream start to the Baywide Premier 1 competition, backing up first round victory over front-runners Te Puke with a 20-12 win over close neighbours Mount Maunganui at Blake Park today.
In wet and slippery conditions, whichever team made fewer errors and made the most of their opportunities was always going to go a long way towards winning and that's exactly what Tauranga did.
The opening minutes of the battle of the bridge produced a good arm wrestle in the middle of the field as both sides felt each other out. That is until Tauranga fullback Peni Lasaqa Jnr broke the game wide open.
Tauranga had the ball in their own 22m and, despite the wet conditions, showed no hesitation in spinning it wide. Lasaqa Jnr got the ball on the outside and took off, leaving his opposite for dead and racing 80m to score the opening try. It was converted and Tauranga led 7-0.
Mount Maunganui did not muck around in their efforts to get back in the game though. Fifteen minutes into the match they had a scrum inside the Tauranga 22m, worked the ball left and first five Carl Perry threw a dummy before racing through a gap to score. He converted his own try and the scores were locked at 7-all.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and minutes later Tauranga were in again. Winger Zach Kerr put a kick in behind the Mount Maunganui defensive line and regathered inside the 22m. Several phases later No 8 Apitoni Toia bulldozed his way over from close range to reclaim the lead. The try was converted and Tauranga led 14-7.
Tauranga kicked a penalty late in the first half to lead 17-7 at the break.
Tauranga went straight back on the attack early in the second half. Their powerful forward pack was dominant and ensured their side played with plenty of momentum.
However, after Tauranga missed a shot at goal, Mount Maunganui clawed their way back into contention and a piece of individual brilliance from second five Danny Kayes had them right back in the game.
Kayes received the ball 40m out from the try line and produced a big fend to get rid of his marker before showing blistering pace to run away and score. With the try unconverted, Tauranga trailed 12-17.
With the game in the balance, there was plenty of passion being displayed on the field by these bitter rivals and on multiple occasions tempers threatened to boil over as small scuffles broke out.
Mount Maunganui threw everything at Tauranga but the defence held strong and with five minutes to go the away side sealed victory with another penalty goal, extending the lead to 20-12.
The result leaves Mount Mauganui winless in the second round of the Baywide competition, after losing to Te Puna last weekend, and they now look ahead to a home game against Rangataua next weekend.
Meanwhile, Tauranga are flying with two wins from two and they travel to Greerton in their next match.
Baywide Club Rugby Results
Te Puna 57 Rangataua 8, Te Puke Sports 52 Whakarewarewa 11, Greerton Marist 46 Rangiuru 13, Mount Maunganui 12 Tauranga Sports 20.
Premier 1 Development:
Te Puna 63 Rangataua 5, Te Puke Sports 51 Whakarewarewa 7, Greerton Marist 25 Rangiuru 5, Mount Maunganui 39 Tauranga Sports 34.
Te Teko 38 Ruatoki 28, Waikite 14 Marist St Michaels 19, Arataki 13 Ngongotaha 13, Opotiki 38 Kahukura 10.
Premier 2 Development:
Te Teko 29 Ruatoki 0, Waikite 5 Marist St Michaels 34, Arataki 10 Ngongotaha 29, Opotiki 19 Kahukura 12.
Poroporo 10 Judea 27, Papamoa 7 Whakatane Marist 41, Reporoa 30 Murupara 22, Rotoiti vs Paroa (win).
Ngongotaha 12 Tauranga Sports 17, Te Puna 16 Matakana 22, Greerton Marist - BYE.