This weekend, Baywide men's rugby teams will play their last round of fixtures before progressing into the second phase of the competition.

The top eight in the Premier division will break off and become Premier 1. The bottom four will join the top four from Division 1 and play for the Premier 2 title. The bottom eight teams in Division 1 will remain there.

There will be one important question for seven of the teams who progress to Premier 1; how do you beat Te Puke?

Going purely on the results so far this year, you don't. The defending champions have not missed a beat, winning eight out of eight matches. They have scored a whopping 344 points (that's 43 per game) and conceded just 79 (9.9 per game).


Their biggest winning margin was 57-0 against Ōpōtiki, they have broken the 50 point barrier four times and are yet to score less than 40 points in a game, although their most recent win was by default against Rotoiti.

This weekend Te Puke take on close neighbours Rangiuru who are in fourth place. Both sides have cemented their spots in Premier 1 but just try telling them this game doesn't mean anything.

The Baywide Premier rugby standings after eight games.
The Baywide Premier rugby standings after eight games.

Te Puna are in second place with six wins and two losses, Greerton are third, Whakarewarewa are fifth, Tauranga Sports are sixth and Mount Maunganui are seventh.

The final spot in the top eight is where things get really interesting. While the top seven can theoretically put their feet up this week, with no mathematical chance of missing out, there are four teams in contention for eighth place.

Arataki, Rangataua, Rotoiti and Te Teko are all on eight points - Ōpōtiki are last and are yet to win a game.

Arataki have by far the best points differential of the four contenders, more than 100 points better off than the next best Rangataua. If they win they are virtually guaranteed to progress.

Rotoiti's Beau Kiel runs the ball against Te Puna. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotoiti's Beau Kiel runs the ball against Te Puna. Photo / Ben Fraser

This week Arataki travel to Rotoiti, who could not even get a team together against Te Puke at the weekend. Meanwhile, Rangataua travel to Ōpōtiki and Te Teko host Te Puna. Each of the four teams going for eighth spot need to win and hope the other three lose to guarantee their place, otherwise it will come down to points difference.

The benefit of the Baywide rugby format, for rugby fans, is the storylines it produces so early in the season. The decision to do away with bonus points this year also looks to have spiced things up with motivation to go for the win greater than ever.

Just eight games in we have last year's finalists Te Puke and Te Puna sitting atop the table. They are also the top two teams in the Premier Development division which tells us there is more to success that a strong starting XV.

In third and fourth we have the over achievers, Greerton and Rangiuru. Greerton were sixth in Premier 1 last year but have quietly gone about their business this year and marched up the table. Rangiuru weren't even in Premier 1 last year, they won Premier 2, but with former All Black Tanerau Latimer at the helm as player/coach they are a force to be reckoned with.

Whakarewarewa, in fifth, recruited well in the off-season with Bay of Plenty Steamers forwards Baden Wardlaw and Josh Davey joining a side already brimming with attacking talent. A club-wide focus on creating a family environment has them humming and they will be a side nobody looks forward to playing in round two.

Tauranga Sports and Mount Maunganui may be towards the bottom of the eight but they are always in the conversation when it comes to the pointy end of the season. Let's not forget the Mount won the Premier 1 title just two years ago.

The Baywide Division 1 rugby standings after eight games.
The Baywide Division 1 rugby standings after eight games.

Meanwhile, in Division 1, Ngongotahā have made like Te Puke and destroyed every obstacle in their path with eight wins from eight and a guaranteed spot in Premier 2. They will be eager to improve on their fifth place finish last year.

Ruatoki are second and will also progress. Third placed Waikite and fourth placed Marist St Michael's will be looking over their shoulders at Kahukura and Paroa in fifth and sixth but know a win will be enough to go through.