An Under 6 coach will tell his kids and their parents to always have a mouthguard until he's blue in the face, and unfortunately the grown men of Harvey Round Motors Ratana needed a similar rark-up on Saturday.
The Tasman Tanning Premier wooden spooners could have really had a dig at Marton Park against McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu, who were in an awkward phase of the competition with positional changes and their young stars facing a lot of rugby in seven days.
Instead, the story of the match has to be three of the home side being given the card by referee Mark Wilson for not having a mouthguard.
It was almost like two games were played, as Ratana won a six minute match 7-0 with a try after good buildup by the forwards, but then Wilson stopped play as it was clear multiple Ratana players were showing their teeth.
Several rushed to the sideline and ultimately two of them got the yellow card, as those players had to jog all the way back from No2 field to the changing rooms to scrounge up a mouthguard from somewhere.
After a near 10 minute delay, the rugby resumed and although Ruapehu got frustrated at the breakdown and conceded multiple penalties, while also initially struggling to string their passes together, they eventually clicked into gear and ran out 52-7 winners.
Ratana had not learnt their lesson as Wilson sent another reserve from the field towards the end of the match for no mouthguard, meaning they had played with 13-14 for significant periods for no good reason.
Ruapehu coach Daisy Alabaster had the five points he needed, and a few work-on's to take back up to Ohakune.
"Some of it wasn't quite right place, right time," he said.
"We haven't quite hit our straps yet."
The win will set up the big away match with Byford's Readimix Taihape next weekend for the right to lead the table, but before then, all of Ruapehu's talented youngsters will have the Wednesday night match for the Gain Line XV against Manawatu Under 19's.
Alabaster tried to manage the load with backs Mitchell Millar and Kahl Elers-Green coming off the bench on Saturday, as did prop Gabriel Hakaraia, although he is also battling illness, while lock Jackson Campbell is not 100 per cent and will probably be pulled from the rep game.
"Those [other] five need a bit of rugby, it will be good for them," Alabaster said.
He praised Mitchell and Elers-Green, who was tried out at centre, for a strong second half, along with busy flanker Jack Kinder and Josh Fifita, who covered halfback for the match.
Ruapehu even had the services of the legend, as Peter Rowe returned to play the first 50 minutes at lock in yet another comeback from retirement.
Ratana's best were veteran prop Isaac Fonotoe, captain and flanker Mikaere Penetito, and halfback Onewa Tai until he had to leave the field after a knock to the back of the head.
After yet another fulltime pep talk, coach Steelie Koro admitted he was getting "itchy feet" about coming out of player retirement himself, having extolled his squad to keep being committed and focused, as the mouthguard issue is a headache they just don't need.
"One thing all year is we stay competitive for about 40 minutes of the whole game," Koro said.
"But we're struggling without x-factor players.
"We take the positive out of each game.
"We got structure when we stick to it, but in space we don't have that lightning fast player, [or] someone who can lead and be sharp to guide them around."
Just like they did in Ohakune in the first round, Ratana scored the opening try, which came after Ruapehu gave away the first of many penalties at the breakdown, and from a penalty lineout the home side drove on a good angle and prop Shade Tuaine-Whanau forced his way over.
After the long mouthguard delay, which saw a Ratana scrum become a Ruapehu penalty when play resumed, the visitors struggled to crack the line as they ran towards the bright sun and gave up a lot of infringement at the breakdown.
Finally, captain Roman Tutauha went off the back of a ruck to get the go-forward, then winger Shaquille Waara worked the cut with first-five Craig Clare, before the ball was spread wide for the other winger Corey Carmichael to beat his man and dot down.
It took a long time before Ruapehu could execute another opportunity, and finally Tutauha got so fed up he just did it himself – scoring a real captain's try off a lineout as he stepped through the Ratana line, pivoted off the other foot, then twisted in the tackle and dove through two defenders to score.
Ruapehu extended their lead on halftime from a tap kick as lock Andrew Evans ran hard, then found flanker Jamie Hughes, who set up Carmichael to again step the tackle and dot down.
The visitors stepped up a notch after the break as No8 Campbell Hart went close to the line, with Fifita taking it from the breakdown and burrowing over beside the corner flag for 24-7.
A penalty allowed them to attempt a couple of drives from the scrum, but when Ratana held the ball was freed to the fresh Mitchell, who ran hard through the gap and carried the last defender on his shoulders to the line.
Carmichael made a strong run off a Fifita pass, which was followed by Tutauha, then the ball was transferred to the other wing and Waara finally grabbed the try he had missed a couple of times.
Living in Ratana's territory now, another Ruapehu penalty tap saw Tutauha link with Kinder and reserve William King beat the last tackler to run back towards the posts.
Ruapehu liked that move and after Hughes and second-five Troy Brown worked up the middle, they again spread towards the roadside corner and Kinder put Hart over beside the flag, with Clare adding another excellent kick from the sideline.
Ruapehu 52 (C Carmichael 2, R Tutauha, J Fifita, M Mitchell, S Waara, W King, C Hart tries; C Clare 6 con) bt Ratana 7 (S Tuaine-Whanau try; O Tai con). HT: 19-7.