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As the map is redrawn across Tasman Tanning Premier, the two green-jersey clubs once on the outside looking in now have big aspirations of finals footy ahead of their meeting up the Waitotara Valley on Saturday.
Both Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri and Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist are approaching their final match of round one with confidence - using the barometer where each picked up big wins over Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau at their own ground in the past two weeks.
Marist got a big lift from their 41-10 win over their cross-town rivals, while Ngamatapouri scored three tries in the final seven minutes to sweep to a 59-41 victory.
"In Kaierau's defence, the score didn't reflect how close the game was," said Marist coach Travers Hopkins, who streamed last week's game while watching senior rugby at Spriggens Park.
"That's what Ngamat can do – if you take the foot off the gas they can punish you."
Marist used their bye week to ease back a little on the training intensity, but nonetheless did a lot of structured set pieces, getting all bruises healed up within a fully healthy squad coming into the halfway point of the regular season.
"Luckily enough, we've been fortunate with injury or lack of," said Hopkins.
"We're in a good spot, whereas even a year ago one injury would set us back."
The majority of the squad remember being successful on their previous long trip up the valley – a 31-15 win on July 3 last year to confirm their first Premier semifinal appearance since 2017.
Hopkins is aware that Ngamatapouri's dangerous backs would love a "helter-skelter" match – it feeds into their ability to score from anywhere on the park.
"You know where their strengths lie – their free-flowing rugby.
"But we've got to be confident in what we can do. It's not too foreign for them."
Young playmaker backs Rangi Kui and Daniel Kauika got on the front foot against Kaierau, but they'll need to keep cool heads and not look to play too fast against Ngamatapouri – whose new imports Peceli Malauicagi and Kameli Kuruyabaki are lethal on counterattack.
But up front is where Marist could make their mark – 20201 Steelform Whanganui cadet prop Keightley Watson, speedy hooker Jack Yarrall, veteran Cameron Neilson and Canadian newcomer Marc Ouellet are becoming an impressive troupe.
"I have no doubts whatsoever – I rate our set-piece, our lineout," said Hopkins.
"We have one of the strong set-pieces in Whanganui rugby at the moment."
The coach also took note of his former franchise player making strides with his new club – Josaia Bogileka slotted into first-five against Kaierau, with playmaker Brook Treymayne coming off the bench for the final quarter.
"Brook's class, no escaping that, and he comes on as sort of the closer. Everyone knows what Jo can do."
With the backline full of representative players, Ngamatapouri manager Gerald Pearce said the Bogileka shift was to mix things up.
"We did that to surprise them a little bit, and it went well."
The side looks set to keep Tasi Kabukaua feeding the scrum – he may not look like the prototypical halfback, but there's no denying it worked in their back-to-back victories.
"That gives us options going forward."
Likewise with a fully fit squad, an anomaly for Ngamatapouri who often face the dreaded knee injuries and calf strains at this time of year, Pearce understands all the talk around premier about beating his team through the forwards while starving their backs.
"[Against Kaierau] we had 20 minutes with 14 - that was the other problem."
But one should not sleep on Ngamatapouri's pack – 2019 Steelform Whanganui representative Chris Breuer returns from injury this weekend, while Mairangi Tamehana was strong in the lineout and ripped Kaierau open with some long runs.
An unsung workman has been loose forward Brett Joyes – nothing flashy, but always grafting.
"We had to put him in the front row last week. He's actually a really good rugby player," said Pearce.
"They wouldn't want to give us a scrum, 10-20m out."
In the other matchup, Kaierau could well have a sense of foreboding as they head to Memorial Park to face the Byford's Readimix Taihape side which buried Waverley Harvesting Border there seven days before.
Premier draw (2.35pm kickoffs)
Byford's Readimix Taihape vs Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau
Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri vs Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist
Bye: Waverley Harvesting Border.