Just how tight the new Tasman Tanning Division 1 points table is liable to be during this second round of games was evident on Saturday, as the sides sitting second and third fell back down the standings after matches where the competition points were decided inside the final minute.
The eight teams in Premier from Round 1 are now reduced to six, with their overall points tallies being halved, leaving a tight cluster of four sides behind the undefeated leaders McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu, all trying to squeeze into the three other playoff berths.
As well as an 80th minute penalty denying Byford's Readimix Taihape even a bonus point from a game they could have won against Ruapehu, Waverley Harvesting Border were upset at home as Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau scored in the dying seconds to win 23-21.
The first victory by Kaierau against the South Taranaki club on Dallison Park in seven meetings, just like Ruapehu this the game showed precisely how vital every team's goal kickers will be in this second round.
Kaierau were out-scored three tries to two, but the boot of the previously erratic first-five Shandon Scott proved crucial with five successful kicks, including the match-winning conversion.
Border, without Angus Middleton following his red card two weekends ago, still went up 13-0 after 16 minutes with two tries and a penalty, as Kaierau found themselves trailing like they did against Ruapehu.
No 8 Joe Edwards put in a cross kick for winger Pene Vui to score, with Scott adding the extras and then a penalty to close the gap to 13-10 by halftime.
Scott and Border's Nick Harding then traded penalty goals to see the scores level 16-all after 65 minutes, before Border grabbed their third try to move clear again.
Both Tikoisolomone's – Renato and Veneniki – got five pointers for Border, as did utility back Anaru Haerewa.
But this time Kaierau would not be denied as second five Ethan Robinson, who missed the Ruapehu game, scored right on fulltime for Scott to kick them to the win, leaving Border in almost do-or-die mode when Ruapehu will come to town the weekend for their next match.
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The Division 1 result which went down as expected was Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist moving to second on the table, courtesy of a big 57-14 win over Harvey Round Motors Ratana at Spriggens Park.
With Peni Nabainivalu returning from injury to slot into first-five against Ratana's player-coach Steelie Koro, there were plenty of opportunities for Marist's outside backs, as winger Luke Foster grabbed a hat trick while fullback Emitai Logodraudrau got a double.
Marist welcomed back a couple of familiar faces as Steelform Wanganui incumbent lock Sam Madams made an appearance, while utility back Sean Brown got on the tryscorers sheet.
The bonus point win was the launching pad Marist needed, but just like last season they now enter "murderers row" by playing all four other playoff contenders through to the end of the round robin, albeit with every game in Whanganui.
Kickoff for the new Division 2 saw the Bennett's Taihape get over a psychological hurdle as they collected their first Premier scalp, beating Black Bull Liquor Pirates 50-28 at Memorial Park.
Having to prepare for the unknown in taking on the grand finalist from Premier in 2018, Taihape discovered the visitors resemble that team only in name, as a penalty try from the Pirates fullback not releasing on his line took the home team out to a 38-7 lead midway through the second half.
Pirates, who were playing without Lasa Ulukuta after he got a red card at the same time as Middleton, did lift their game by running in three more tries to close the gap, but Taihape had the composure in the forwards to score a seven-pointer on fulltime to raise their half century.
There was no more Premier scalping as Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri, with their dominant Fijian backline, had no problems against Utiku Old Boys up in the Waitotara Valley, hammering the second-best team coming up from Senior 62-12 with 31 points scored in each half.
In Kaiwhaiki, this time Marist Celtic managed the necessary goal kick to just get up over Counties 19-17, after Marist had again trailed at halftime in a game that resembled the 10-10 draw back on May 18.
Sending their undermanned Premier team over to Memorial Park meant the Black Bull Liquor Pirates Seniors had to make a disappointing default to neighbours Marist Buffalo's for the start of Division 3.
Surprisingly relegated to the lowest tier, Kelso Hunterville introduced the brand-new Counties Brothers team into club rugby with a 62-10 hammering, pulling away after a competitive first half at the Domain.
It was a tough day all around at Dallison Park as Kaierau, the team most likely to test Hunterville in this grade, picked up a big 36-0 win over Border, still winless in 2019, with Kaierau scoring all their points in the second half.
Club rugby takes a break this coming Saturday for the Game of Three Halves representative trial between the sub-union teams of Northern, Rangitikei/Country and Metro.
Results, June 8
Tasman Tanning Premier Division 1, Week 8.
Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 57 (Luke Foster 3, Emitai Logodraudrau 2, Rory Gudsell, Simon Dibben, Sean Brown tries, penalty try; Peni Nabainivalu 2 con, Ricky Alabaster 2 con, Logodraudrau con) bt Harvey Round Motors Ratana 14 (Whetahero Cribb-Fox, Isaac Fonotoe tries; Steelie Koro 2 con). HT: 31-7.
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 23 (Pene Vui, Ethan Robinson tries; Shandon Scott 3 pen, 2 con) bt Waverley Harvesting Border 21 (Anaru Haerewa, Renato Tikoisolomone, Veneniki Tikoisolomone tries; Nick Harding 2 pen). HT:13-10 Border.
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – McCarthy Transport Ruapehu 24 (Jamie Hughes, Campbell Hart tries; Mitchell Millar 4 pen, con) bt Byford's Readimix Taihape 15 (Jaye Flaws, Dylan Gallien tries; Dane Whale pen, James Barrett con). HT: 11-7.
Division 2 Championship, Week 1.
At Ngamatapouri: Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri bt Utiku OB 62-12. HT: 31-5.
At McNab Domain, Kaiwhaiki – Marist Celtic bt Counties 19-17. HT: 12-10 Counties.
At Memorial Park, Taihape – Bennett's Taihape bt Black Bull Liquor Pirates 50-28. HT: 24-7.
Points: Ngamatapouri 5, Taihape 5, Celtic 4, Counties 1, Pirates 0, Utiku OB 0.
Division 3 Championship, Week 1.
At Spriggens Park: Marist Buffalo's bt Black Bull Liquor Pirates Seniors by default.
At Dallison Park: Kaierau bt Border 36-0. HT: 0-all.
At Hunterville: Kelso Hunterville bt Counties Brothers 62-10. HT: 24-10.
Bye: Speirs Food Marton.
Points: Buffalo's 5, Hunterville 5, Kaierau 5, Border 0, Counties Brothers 0, Pirates 0, Marton 0.