It turned from a Jubilee festival into a carnival of attacking rugby as Counties celebrated their 50th anniversary with a 65-7 thrashing of the Black Bull Liquor Pirates Senior team in a damp Kaiwhaiki on Saturday.
The rainbow which shone over MacNab Domain at kickoff in the Tasman Tanning Senior match brought with it a pot of gold for the home side, who were well on their way to a bonus point victory at 38-7 by halftime.
It was by then the team and their supporters learned that over at the Hunterville Domain, Marist Celtic had pulled off the big upset – beating 2018's Senior champions Kelso Hunterville 19-10.
Without a bonus point, Hunterville therefore fell out of the Top 4 when the fulltime whistle blew at Kaiwhaiki after an 11 tries to one demolition, making Counties the final team to qualify for the new Division 2 grade as Premier and Senior are split into three divisions for the rest of the season.
It capped off a perfect day for Counties coach Simon Te Paki and his squad.
"Very proud, got a great bunch of guys," Te Paki said.
"We've got a huge squad this season, it's hard to pick a 22 every week, we've been getting around it by having a few injuries.
"Talented backline, speed to burn, and the forwards dominated up front."
Looking ahead to Division 2, where they will have to face the three best Senior teams and the two relegated sides from Premier – Black Bull Liquor Pirates and Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri – Te Paki liked their chances of making the inaugural semifinals.
They had drawn with Celtic two weeks ago, just lost narrowly to the Bennett's Taihape Seniors in the opening weekend when the visitors had extra Premier players available, while a couple of Premier regulars from Pirates also played the Jubilee game on Saturday.
"We just got to keep the momentum going," Te Paki said.
It had been a special occasion, with the players very motivated after receiving their match jerseys from members of the original 1968-9 team at the Kaiwhaiki Marae on Friday night.
"We've got guys who had fathers and grandfathers who played for Counties."
On a day when their forwards forced multiple turnovers, along with claiming several tightheads and opposition lineout throws, Counties outside backs ran riot straight after kickoff, led by winger Shane Henry, formally of Whanganui Boxon league, and centre Aaron Paranihi.
A strong run to the tryline by Henry saw the ruck ball recycled to first-five Bernard Matthews to score, with fullback AJ Newton adding the extras on what would be a profitable day personally with 25 points.
Another Henry run to the far right corner saw the ball spread back to the left and prop Justis Manley-Ureon set up his hooker Jesse Tamou to dot down untouched.
Matthews put down a chip kick through the middle of the field inside Pirate's 22m for second-five Te Rokena Tauri-Matthews to slip through and regather, crashing over in the tackle.
Counties immediately broke out again from back in their own 22m for Paranihi to set Henry dashing away, before getting the ball back and firing a long inside pass for Matthews to run in for his double and get the crucial four-try bonus point.
The hits kept coming as Henry ripped back possession inside Counties half to feed Paranihi for another dash down the sideline, this time feeding Newton the long inside pass to run to the posts.
Getting a rare turnover through first-five Hone Taurua, Pirates finally replied as lock Patrick Wallace drove close to the line, then flanker Tristan Slight showed great strength to twist through three tacklers and dot down, taking the conversion himself.
But Counties replied quickly as another Paranihi dash was pushed out just at the corner flag, only for the forwards to smartly regain possession after the lineout and flanker James Marshall forced his way through for their sixth try before the break.
Henry and Paranihi, who had a slight strain, were subbed at halftime but by then their job was done, as Counties brought on their deep bench and continued to link through forwards and backs to lay on multiple tries in the other far left corner.
Following a scrum tighthead, Counties forwards rumbled to the line and then Newton shrugged out of a tackler to score out wide.
Despite the scoreline, the home side weren't letting up as Taui-Matthews cleaned up Pirates winger Caleb Wilson with a massive hit, with the young man having to come off.
Matthews put down a grubber kick in the corner for Manley-Ureon to dive on it in-goal, which was followed by another Counties tighthead and rumble to the tryline for reserve Adam Chamberlain to dive through, with Newton landing his last conversion before handing the role onto others.
Another break by Tauri-Matthews saw Counties transfer the ball from sideline to sideline, and again Newton forced his way over in the corner to get his hat trick and bring up 60 points
Matthews wasn't about to be overshadowed and got his hat trick on fulltime and dummying into a gap at the line to dive over
Counties 65 (A Newton 3, B Matthews 3, J Tamou, T Tauri-Matthews, J Marshall, J Manley-Ureon, A Chamberlain tries; A Newton 5 con) bt Pirates 7 (T Slight try, con). HT: 38-7.