The Whanganui Boxon have steadied their shaky campaign in the TRL Paddock to Plate Butchery Taranaki Premiership as a dominant final quarter blew them out to a 48-20 win over the Hawera Hawks at City College on Saturday.
After a draw and defeat in their last two games, Boxon's 28-point win over the second-placed side keeps them on top of the table, while avenging their 30-28 loss to the Hawks in the dying seconds during the first round of the Premiership in March.
Following a first half that had a time keeping issue and was shorter than 40 minutes, the Boxon held a narrow 20-16 advantage, with both teams agreeing to a 45 minute second stanza.
After defending their line with around 25 minutes to go, the Boxon broke the shackles when their speedy Fijian fullback Emitai Logadraudrau went in-and-away from two defenders from near the corner of own tryline and sprinted away down the tramlines to run towards the posts for a hat trick.
Buoyed by their supporters, Boxon kept the pressure on and a charge down on the Hawks kick in midfield was then fumbled by the visiting team.
Influential second-rower Tautahi Rawiri broke the defence to get his team on attack, and then went for another run to set up a try in the far left corner.
Standoff Corey-Lee Robertson got his team back on the attack after a great run from dummy half, twisting and beating tacklers, and then Rawiri attacked down the Hawks brittle-looking right side corner with winger John Wharepapa in support, but ultimately Rawiri just powered through himself to dive over.
The Boxon had found the weak spot and after prop Te Tuhinga Reweti got them on the front foot, Rawiri again attacked the right corner with the ball just being put down.
The home side worked their way back on attack after the Hawks set of six from the scrum, and when they were right at the corner pocket, Wharepapa went dummy half and faked to pass left before just squeezing over the line beside the right hand flag.
Everything was going wrong for the Hawks as they got a penalty but dropped the ball on the first tackle, and the Boxon wrapped up proceedings as centre Jordan Davis took his opportunity to score in the corner.
"The week before we had dropped away, so we were determined to during the week to finish games off," said coach Haze Reweti.
Halfback Bernard Matthews returning from a two week absence had really helped the home side to stay in control, as he took over marshalling the troops while giving Robertson more opportunity to focus on his running game.
"We figured that [right hand gap] out in the first half and figured we'd attack on that side," said Reweti.
"Rawiri, we just give him the ball and everyone runs off him."
Boxon's next match will be an away game to the Bell Block-Marist Dragons this weekend.