Brought to you by Wanganui Rugby
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau had an unease they might find a stronger McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu side waiting for them at Rochfort Park than had been seen in recent Tasman Tanning Premier games.
And so it proved as it took two tries inside the final 10 minutes before Kaierau were able to pull away from the winless home side to retain the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield on Saturday.
With Troy Brown, Tautahi Rawiri and Corey Carmichael returning while Josh Fifita wanted a big match in his farewell game, Ruapehu had a stronger backline to compliment their still quality-forward pack, while the visitors had a rejigged lineup with the likes of Ethan Robinson and Joe Edwards joining the injury list.
Ruapehu led early with a converted try from Brown, before Kaierau took control through their teenaged fullback Logan Henry, who slotted a penalty and then converted his own try.
Winger Karl Pascoe, coming off a hat trick against Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri, then scored to take his team clear 15-7 at halftime.
A converted try from veteran reserve forward Lasa Ulukuta extended Kaierau's advantage, but Ruapehu dug in with winger Royce Trow scoring to close the gap to 22-14.
The scoreline stayed that way for a long time, before Kaierau finally climbed up another gear through players of two generations, with player-coach Ace Malo and then 18-year-old Dillon Adrole both dotting down to make the Shield safe.
Kaierau had to secede top spot on the ladder through points differential to Waverley Harvesting Border, after their blowout win over Kaierau's next opponent Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist.
Also wanting to perform well at home, considering they hadn't won there since May 25 last year, Byford's Readimix Taihape picked up their first four-try bonus point of the season after a comfortable 35-5 win over Ngamatapouri at Memorial Park.
Up 25-0 at halftime with four of their six tries, Taihape found it slightly harder going in the second half, but similar to Marist, Ngamatapouri's hopes of at least scoring four tries for a precious bonus point did not come to pass, with big midfielder Timoci 'Jim' Seruwalu's try in consecutive games being their only score.
Taihape winger Ryan Karatau grabbed a double, as he and loose forward Tremaine Gilbert likewise made it tries in consecutive matches.
Prop Wiremu Cottrell, halfback Brett Nicholls and a returning James Barrett also scored, as Taihape keep pace with Border and Kaierau in their three-team race for the home semifinals.
Despite a rare chance to be at the same ground, the Bennett's Taihape seniors were not able to make it a club double, as Harvey Round Motors Ratana came off their bye week to pick up a 39-15 win in their defence of the Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield.
Ratana stay unbeaten and will be looking to make up some ground on the table leaders Marist Celtic and Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau, who will meet in the big Senior game of the next round.
Both sides will bring confidence into that match, as Celtic easily dispatched Border 59-0 in Waverley, while Kaierau collected their first Marist scalp with a 56-10 win over the Buffalos at Spriggens Park.
Black Bull Liquor Pirates registered their first points of the season as they came from nine points down at halftime to secure a 29-all draw with Counties at Spriggens Park, with both sides getting a four-try bonus point in what was Counties second stalemate in four matches.
Kelso Hunterville had a tough slog at home against Speirs Food Marton, as a penalty in each half was enough to see them home 6-5 in the celebration of club stalwart Chris Wilton's 100th game.
Results, July 25
Tasman Tanning Premier, Week 4.
Waverley Harvesting Border 79 (Isaiah Graham-Hooper 2, Lindsay Horrocks 2, Vereniki Tikoisolomone 2, Alekesio Vakororongo , Angus Middleton, Craig Clare, Hamish Mellow, Semi Vodosese, Jack Hodges, Neihana Pomana tries; Clare 5 con, Jack Lupton 2 con) bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 19 (Rangi Kui, Lake Ah Chong, Ashton Coates tries; Kui con, Coates con). HT: 38-5.
Byford's Readimix Taihape 35 (Ryan Karatau 2, Tremaine Gilbert, Wiremu Cottrell, Brett Nicholls, James Barrett tries; Dane Whale pen, con) bt Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri 5 (Timoci Seruwalu try). HT: 25-0.
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 34 (Logan Henry, Karl Pascoe, Lasa Ulukuta, Asalemo Malo, Dillon Adrole tries; Henry pen, 2 con, Zane Robinson con) bt McCarthy Transport Ruapehu 14 (Troy Brown, Royce Trow tries; Tautahi Rawiri 2 con). HT: 15-7.
Senior Championship, Week 4.
At Spriggens Park: Black Bull Liquor Pirates drew 29-all with Counties. HT: 19-10 Counties.
At Spriggens Park: Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau bt Marist Buffalos 56-10. HT: 17-3.
At Dallison Park: Marist Celtic bt Border 59-0. HT: 32-0.
At Hunterville: Kelso Hunterville bt Speirs Food Marton 6-5. HT: 5-3 Marton,
At Taihape (Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield): Harvey Round Motors Ratana bt Bennett's Taihape 39-15. HT: 22-5.
Bye: Utiku OB.
WELCOME HOME: There was a familiar face watching the Wanganui Junior Opening day on the Springvale fields on Saturday morning, as Highlander and NZ Sevens star Vilmoni Koroi was the WRFU's special guest on the grounds he played as a Kaierau junior. Koroi signed autographs and chatted with the next generation of child players. Wanganui Rural Fire personnel helped run the BBQ for donations towards the Sky Tower Firefighter Challenge, for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ.
METRO: The St Johns Wanganui Metro side has maintained second spot on the Manawatu Colts ladder after a big 52-6 win over Old Boys Marist at Ongley Park on Saturday. Their last pool game before the scheduled semifinals will be at home against winless College Old Boys. The St Johns Wanganui Metro Women ran into a very strong Kia Toa team at Bill Brown Park and suffered a harsh 91-0 loss.