In a game packed with all the passion and aggression you would expect from a Rotorua derby, Ngongotahā have beaten Marist St Michael's 22-12.

The win, at Marist Park in Rotorua, keeps Ngongotahā at the top of the Premier 2 standings, but they were made to fight for it by a Marist St Michael's side who fought to the end.

St Michael's were the stronger of the two sides in the opening 15 minutes, enjoying a wealth of possession in attacking territory. However, they were unable to turn that dominance into points and were forced to play with 14 men for 10 minutes when second five Jesse Kondrote was sin binned for a high tackle.

Having absorbed the pressure on their own line, Ngongotahā made the most of the numerical advantage and after working their way up field on the back of a couple of penalties they had the opening try through No 8 William Grace, who showed great strength to crash over under the posts.

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Thirty minutes into the game, and back to 15 men, St Michael's hit back with a well worked try on the back of a lineout 5m out from the try line. It was converted from the sideline and the score was locked at 7-all.

Ngongotahā went straight back on the attack and minutes later Grace was in for his second try of the match after breaking off the back of the scrum. They maintained their momentum with a try to hooker Cain McKenzie and Ngongotahā led 19-7 at halftime.

Ten minutes into the second half St Michael's scored a try destined for the highlights reel.

No 8 Richie Tuivanuavou, who broke tackles at will throughout the 80 minutes, made a barnstorming run up the middle of the field before popping an offload to Paul Josevata who showed great speed to race away and score.

Ngongotaha's Elijah Vill makes a break against Marist St Michael's. Photo / Stephen Parker
Ngongotaha's Elijah Vill makes a break against Marist St Michael's. Photo / Stephen Parker

Trailing 19-12, the effort was there for St Michael's but as the game went on their handling and discipline faltered. The tension threatened to get to both sides and with 20 minutes left to play tempers boiled over, however it was Ngongotahā's Alex Buckley who was shown a red card for allegedly throwing a punch.

Despite being down to 14 men, Ngongotahā were in control during the final 20 minutes and kicked a penalty on fulltime to make it 22-12 and deny their opposition a bonus point.

Ngongotahā coach Jodie Wharekura said he knew Marist St Michael's would not be easy beats, despite a heavy loss to Rangiuru the week before.

"I knew, being a local derby, that they would be a different team and they certainly were.

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"We looked good in the early stages, but for some reason we had brain explosions.

"I don't like to say this, but some of the officiating left a lot to be desired. It went for both teams, there were some things we got away with that we shouldn't have and the same for Marist. I just feel like it could have been a good spectacle and a good open game if it had been allowed to flow more freely," Wharekura said.

A desire to return to the Baywide Premier competition next year is what drove Ngongotahā on Saturday.

"In our first Premier 2 game a few weeks ago, against Rangiuru, we realised some of these teams have actually stepped up. We're just taking each game as it comes to make sure we're there in the top four when the time comes. We've worked too hard to go down," he said.

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Club Rugby Results
Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier 1
Rangataua 53 Rotoiti 18
Te Puke 47 Te Puna 27
Mount Maunganui Sports 36 Whakarewarewa 30
Tauranga Sports 36 Greerton Marist 24

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier 1 Development
Rangataua 46 Rotoiti 31
Te Puke 18 Te Puna 15
Mount Maunganui Sports 51 Whakarewarewa 19
Tauranga Sports 32 Greerton Marist 27

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier 2
Whakatāne Marist 29 Waikite 35
Marist St Michael's 12 Ngongotahā 22
Te Teko 20 Opōtiki 17
Rangiuru 21 Arataki 20

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier 2 Development
Whakatāne Marist 5 Waikite 70
Marist St Michael's 12 Ngongotahā 31
Te Teko 24 Opōtiki 17
Rangiuru 25 Arataki 18

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Division One
Waimana 22 Pāpāmoa 46
Kahukura 27 Poroporo 24
Paroa 19 Ruatoki 29
Judea 12 Murupara 19

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Division Two
Eastern Districts 25 Matata 43
Edgecumbe 15 Katikati 53
Eastern Pirates 5 Reporoa 78