Waverley Harvesting Border went into their duck shooting maimais quite content on Saturday morning after they moved to the top of the Tasman Tanning Premier table following the annual Friday night match at Dallison Park.
It was the third time Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri have met Border under lights for their derby game, and the scorelines continue to expand as the home side pulled well away for a 54-14 victory.
After his double against Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist in the season opener, lightning-quick winger Vereniki Tikoisolomone scored a hat-trick of tries.
Cousin and centre Alekesio Vakarorogo also crossed, as did forwards Ross McDonald at hooker and lock Jack Hodges, with further tries coming from bench players Blake Mitchell and Andy Hamilton.
Down 25-7 at halftime, Ngamatapouri found themselves in a plight similar to the other Bottom 3 teams when faced with a Top 3 opponent – trying to score four tries even in a game hopelessly lost in order to secure a precious bonus point.
McCarthy Transport Ruapehu accomplished that feat the following day against home side Byford's Readimix Taihape, but on Friday evening Ngamatapouri could only manage a seven-pointer in each half from Mairangi Tamehana and their 2020 leading try-scorer and Premier's season MVP, Jim Seruwalu.
Border can expect a sterner test this coming Saturday in the first of the anticipated Top 3 games, defending the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield in a 2020 grand final rematch with Taihape, who are desperate to win for the first time at Dallison Park.
Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist might have been thinking about more than just a bonus point when they were still in striking distance of Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau by halftime at Spriggens Park.
Kaierau co-captain Ethan Robinson had booted penalties in the opening minute and again in the 18th, but other than that, the visitors could not find a way through.
However, the combinations started to click in the second half, Kaierau getting the bonus point as they pulled away for a 30-5 victory.
The visitors finally crossed in the corner after a 5m scrum with halfback Cameron Davies firing a long pass to Robinson to put winger Karl Pascoe over by the flag.
The match was reduced to 14-a-side for 10 minutes after a bit of a scrap, and Kaierau took advantage by working upfield for Robinson to step through a half-gap and then run through to score a try he also converted.
Kaierau attacked the line from another 5m scrum, and when getting a penalty, took a quick tap for Robinson to fire a long pass to veteran Ace Malo, who had come off the bench, to bump off his tackler and score for 23-0.
Back to 15-a-side, Marist responded with their best period of sustained pressure, getting a couple of tap penalties to pound the tryline before prop Viki Tofa, in his return game, drove low to score.
But Kaierau secured their fourth try inside the last five minutes, after an attacking 5m scrum and a Robinson short ball for centre Dillon Adrole to score at the goalpost.
In the Senior competition, two remaining undefeated teams had to work hard to maintain that tag in front of a good crowd at Memorial Park, as Kelso Hunterville are back in the familiar position of table leader after holding off against a game Bennett's Taihape, 26-19.
Harvey Round Motors Ratana flirted with losing the Stihl Shop Whanganui Challenge Shield to Utiku Old Boys but came from 12-7 down at halftime to win 19-12, which saw Utiku slip from first to fourth place.
Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau stayed in third spot as a result of two bonus points in the quintessential "game of two halves" against Black Bull Liquor Pirates, who blew out to 35-10 ahead at halftime but ended up hanging on 42-39 after the visitors scored two tries in the last seven minutes.
It was a big day at Marton Park for the Ruapehu Seniors, who picked up the first win of their comeback season as a team, 19-16, over Speirs Food Marton.
Ali Arc Logistics-DNA Kennels Marist Celtic rebounded from their heavy loss to Ratana to hammer McCrea Scanning Counties 49-0 at McNab Domain, moving rapidly from eighth spot to fifth.
And after being competitive in their first two defeats, the Marist Buffalo's earned the right to cheer with their 36-10 win over Border on Friday night under lights at Dallison Park.
Around the grounds
The St Johns Whanganui Metro Colts remain clear leaders on the Manawatu Colts table after an 82-0 smashing of Massey University RFC at Cooks Gardens on Saturday.
Undefeated rivals the Feilding Yellows moved back up to second after a 58-22 derby win over Feilding Old Boys.
In the MRU Women's grade, Metro have just one regular-season game remaining after their 54-10 loss to Massey at Cooks Gardens. They will take the bye this coming weekend before facing Bush SC away in their last match.
Results, April 30-May 1
Tasman Tanning Premier, Week 2.
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – Waverley Harvesting Border 54 (Vereniki Tikoisolomone 3, Ross McDonald, Alekesio Vakarorogo, Blake Mitchell, Andy Hamilton, Jack Hodges tries; Nick Harding 2 pen, 3 con, Jack Lupton con) bt Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri 14 (Jim Seruwalu, Mairangi Tamehana tries; Brook Tremayne 2 con). HT: 25-7.
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 30 (Ace Malo, Karl Pascoe, Dillon Adrole, Ethan Robinson tries; Robinson 2 pen, 2 con) bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 5 (Viki Tofa try). HT: 6-0.
Byford's Readimix Taihape 38 (Tyrese Payne, Hadlee Hay-Horton, James Barrett, Ben Whale, Tiari Mumby, Dane Whale tries; Dane Whale 4 con) bt McCarthy Transport Ruapehu 22 (Oli Keast, Roman Tutauha, Logan Blackburn, Gabriel Hakaraia tries, Blackburn con). HT: 17-10.
Senior, Week 3.
At Spriggens Park: Black Bull Liquor Pirates bt Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau 42-39. HT: 35-10.
At Dallison Park: Marist Buffalo's bt Border 36-10. HT: 14-7.
At McNab Domain: Ali Arc Logistics-DNA Kennels Marist Celtic bt McCrea Scanning Counties 49-0. HT: 26-0.
At Marton Park: Ruapehu bt Speirs Food Marton 19-16. HT: 3-0 Marton.
At Memorial Park (Stihl Shop Whanganui Challenge Shield): Harvey Round Motors Ratana bt Utiku OB 19-12. HT: 12-7 Utiku OB.
At Memorial Park: Kelso Hunterville bt Bennett's Taihape 26-19. HT: 14-all.