Byford's Readimix Taihape's dry thirst to finally win at Dallison Park remains unquenched after a 39-22 loss to Waverley Harvesting Border on Saturday.
Having known victories over Border back home at Memorial Park and Whanganui's Cooks Gardens, while also cultivating a reputation as a strong "road" team, Taihape have not won in South Taranaki since Border returned to the WRFU competitions in 2011.
Border have not lost any Tasman Tanning Premier match in Waverley since June 8 of 2019.
Winger Vereneki Tikoisolomone continues his path of destruction, after his doubles in the wins over Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist and Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri were followed by a hat-trick of tries on Saturday.
Also adding to his growing tally was front-rower Ross McDonald with two tries, while Tyrone Albert, covering for the on-stand down Lindsay Horrocks, added a try.
Down 22-7 at halftime, Taihape had a stronger second stanza but still finished shy of at least a bonus point to show for the long trip.
Their tries came from loose forward Regan Collier, lock PT Hay-Horton, and returning utility back Tyler Rogers-Holden.
Border will now defend the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield against the last team to beat them at home in Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau, in a second consecutive week of No 1 vs No 2 on the table.
The other key battle is the "fight for fourth", and McCarthy Transport Ruapehu took a big step with their first win of 2021 - just holding off Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 29-22 in their crucial matchup at Rochfort Park.
Ruapehu led 14-8 at halftime and then 22-15 in the second stanza, never quite able to shake off Marist.
The veterans led the way as incumbent Steelform Whanganui captain Campbell Hart scored a double, while his predecessor Roman Tutauha also dotted down, as did winger Ben Waiwai.
Marist's tries came from their Whanganui midfielder Jo Bogileka, along with the young talented backs Jamie Robertson and Cajun Botica-Teki.
They will have to dig deep to get a four-point result on the table, as both Marist and Ruapehu will now face a Ngamatapouri team who have been through the three toughest opponents and want to open their ledger for 2021.
Fourth spot is also proving hard to maintain in the Senior competition, as Utiku Old Boys faced their second consecutive week against an unbeaten opponent and fell out of the playoff group after a 43-0 away loss to Kelso Hunterville.
Having gone down the table earlier after a similar heavy loss to the other unbeaten team in Harvey Round Motors Ratana, Ali Arc Logistics-DNA Kennels Marist Celtic climbed back into the mix after winning their club derby with the Buffalo's, 29-12.
Also climbing rapidly into contention are Black Bull Liquor Pirates, who after trailing 13-10 to Border at Dallison Park revved up in the second half with 43 unanswered points for a 53-13 win.
Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau bounced back from their narrow loss to Pirates to pick up a 29-5 win over McCrea Scanning Counties at the Country Club, with both teams scoring tries inside the last five minutes.
After their narrow loss to Hunterville, Bennett's Taihape stayed in touch with the Top 4 after beating Speirs Food Marton 21-14 at home in another tight tussle.
The defending champions Ratana eventually worked their way clear of a game Ruapehu side at Rochfort Park, winning 47-22 to keep pace with Hunterville.
Results, May 8
Tasman Tanning Premier, Week 3
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 27 (Karl Pascoe 2, Ace Malo, Ethan Robinson tries; Robinson pen, 2 con) bt Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri 13 (Timoci Seruwalu try; Brook Tremayne 2 pen, con). HT: 13-5 Ngamatapouri.
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – Waverley Harvesting Border 39 (Vereniki Tikoisolomone 3, Ross McDonald 2, Tyrone Albert tries; Nick Harding pen, 2 con, Craig Clare con) bt Byford's Readimix Taihape 22 (Regan Collier, Peter-Travis Hay-Horton, Tyler Rogers-Holden tries; Dane Whale pen, 2 con). HT: 22-7.
McCarthy Transport Ruapehu 29 (Campbell Hart 2, Roman Tutauha, Ben Waiwai tries; Tuhirangi Akapita pen, 3 con) bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 22 (Jamie Robertson, Jo Bogileka, Cajun Botica-Teki tries; Ashton Coates pen, 2 con). HT: 14-8.
Senior championship, Week 4
At Spriggens Park: Ali Arc Logistics-DNA Kennels Marist Celtic bt Marist Buffalo's 29-12. HT: 21-5.
At Kaierau Country Club: Gemini Pepper Construction Kaierau bt McCrea Scanning Counties 29-5. HT: 19-0.
At Dallison Park: Black Bull Liquor Pirates 53 bt Border 13. HT: 13-10 Border.
At Marton Park: Bennett's Taihape bt Speirs Food Marton 21-14. HT: 9-7.
At Hunterville: Kelso Hunterville bt Utiku OB 43-0. HT: 24-0.
At Rochfort Park (Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield): Harvey Round Motors Ratana bt Ruapehu 47-22. HT: 19-17.
Around the grounds
JERSEYS: On Mother's Day weekend, the Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau squad wore special white jerseys to acknowledge all of the women involved in their club, especially those mothers and partners who support their connections in the Tasman Tanning Premier and Senior teams.
METRO: The St Johns Whanganui Metro team had another big Manawatu Colts victory on Saturday, hammering then-fourth placed Old Boys Marist RC 65-19 at the Whanganui Collegiate grounds. Metro will go into their bye week leading the table, while the Metro Women come off the bye for their last MRU round-robin game away to Bush SC.
COLLEGIATE: The Whanganui Collegiate 1st XV wrapped up a busy week with a 43-3 victory over Hato Paora at the school grounds on Saturday. On Wednesday, Collegiate had travelled to "The Gully" to face rivals New Plymouth Old Boys, narrowly losing 20-14, while the previous Saturday was a 40-34 defeat away to Palmerston North Boys High. Their Central North Island campaign kicks off this coming Saturday.