Waverley Harvesting Border would have stepped into their duck shooting maimai's content but not satisfied after their 47-10 win over a decidedly makeshift Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri at Dallison Park on Friday night.
The annual night game is what it is when it comes to squad execution – as the ball has an added dew, the depth perception is reasonably decreased and the evening temperature was fairly chilly for the start of May.
Having defaulted the previous weekend, Ngamatapouri had pulled in a number of fresh faces, as skipper Bryn Hudson was at the coaching helm while he rested with rib injuries, covering for unwell coach Richard Carston.
They still had only 17 players but prevented Border, hoping to lock down second place on the Tasman Tanning Premier table, from breaching the 50 point margin.
The home side should have got there, but cost themselves a lot of points with mistimed passes in the dark, some dropped ball and overeagerness at the breakdown, with referee Sam McKnight having to bring the whistle to full force.
Ngamatapouri do not have the speed with ball in hand that Border possess, nor the overall fitness, so it made sense that flanker Chris Breur, No8 Angus Middleton and second-five Opetini Dryden wanted to get up quickly on them and force the turnovers with jarring tackles.
Double try-scoring speedster Harry Symes was a standout as every time the ball reached the wing he looked dangerous, while fullback Nick Harding was strong at the back and again delivered with the boot on a tough night for goal-kicking, landing six from seven.
Prop-turned-lock Tietie Tuimauga continues to impress, carrying more responsibility as Hamish Mellow was rested after rolling an ankle at training.
Tuimauga looks set to rejoin the Steelform Wanganui lineup as Border coach Ross Williams said he is working very hard on his strength and conditioning.
Despite the necessary bonus point win, Williams will expect more of his side as they prepare to face Black Bull Liquor Pirates in a fortnight.
"I'm just really disappointed with our discipline.
"The penalty count was far too high, and we weren't being threatened.
"There were times our attack looked really good.
"It's a different beast, night rugby, there are black spots everywhere."
Ngamatapouri upped their game in the second half, as Jim Seruwalu looked to get more involved after being kept quiet by the Border defence, while the best all-around performer Samu Kubunavanua tried his best to manufacture opportunities.
But it was a tough night for ball handling and the classic league-style offloads in the tackle were not going to work.
Fullback Sheldon Pakinga-Manhire made a brilliant run from deep in his own half to split the Border defence and looked set to score until first-five Tyler Rogers-Holden collared him around the neck a few steps from the line, with McKnight awarding the automatic seven points and bringing out the yellow card.
This also kept the scoreline down as Border would only score twice in the final quarter, when Ngamatapouri usually wilt away as they tire out with no depth on the bench.
"The week off can't come quick enough," said Hudson, who hopes to return for the second round of games.
"Really proud in the effort they put in.
"There were 2-3 guys out there we won't have every week.
"There's two more we're looking at."
Ngamatapouri have been dealt a body blow with the news that 2017 Wanganui representative and former Fijian test lock Sekonaia Kalou won't be joining the club this campaign, with the South Taranaki side having lost several top players in the last two years for work visa related reasons.
The first ten minutes was an exercise in lost ball and scrums as both side struggled to adjust their vision to the artificial light.
When Border's backs finally linked the chain they were textbook as Dryden fired the long pass to Harding, who gave Symes both space to move and a gap on his chasers and that's all the former national champion runner needed.
Border kept coming through on Ngamatapouri, who would bobble the ball, and eventually they got a kick charge down, which Breur swooped up and went to the tryline, with Tuimauga burrowing over off the next phase.
Ngamatapouri got a couple of penalty opportunities and second-five Josaia Dawai landed the second of his two attempts, but his team was starting to tire.
Harding snuck through after running back a clearing kick and linked with centre Kaveni Dabenaise, who fed winger Tom Mathews and halfback Lindsay Horrocks.
The Border forwards then rumbled to the line and Horrocks just threw the dummy and fell through the gap at the ruck for 21-3.
More lost Ngamatapouri ball was hacked through by Border and Symes was always going to win a foot race, deftly collecting the ball at speed to score on halftime.
Horrocks looked to use territory more in the second half with chip kicks towards the clubrooms corner, and Border soon had the territory for fresh reserve back Anaru Haerewa to just turn on the gas and zip through a gap beside the posts and score.
But from 35-3, the cricket-score blowout didn't occur as Pakinga-Manhire set off on his excellent run and should have made it had Rogers-Holden not reached out and caught his collar.
The home side were not too put out playing with 14, as they kept spreading the ball to the wings and eventually Harding latched onto an Isaiah Hooper pass to go sideways through the gap and run back to the posts for 42-10 after 65 minutes.
But as the night air got colder, while an exhausted Ngamatapouri dug in, Border's scoring rate dipped with more risky passes, before Middleton followed Symes and Harding's dash through some thin cover to sprint in at the corner with six minutes left.
Border 47 (Harry Symes 2, Tietie Tuimauga, Lindsay Horrocks, Anaru Haerewa, Angus Middleton, Nick Harding tries; Harding 6 con) bt Ngamatapouri 10 (Penalty try, Josaia Dawai pen). HT: 28-3.