It was an early trip to the showers to cool off for Integrity Motors Pirates after an all-in brawl with Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist saw their local derby at Spriggens Park halted with five minutes remaining on Saturday.
After referee Kawana Tihema sent fighting halfbacks Uaealesi Taumaletua and Rory Gudsell to the sinbin following the punch-up, where both Pirates flankers Brad Matthews and Manulua Lafi were already standing for professional fouls, the official decided enough was enough with Pirates leading 47-22 and down to just 11 players.
Pirates had played about 70 minutes with 14 men after winger Josaia Dawai was sent off for stomping, after a touch judges review. That came after they had already lost fullback Motoi Alaifea to the sinbin for punching in another spiteful brawl early in the piece.
Despite the superior numbers, Marist lacked the firepower to trouble Pirates, who became the new Paul Mitchell Cup holders as Tasman Tanning Premier Round 1 winners by scoring six tries when everyone got back to rugby.
Winger Clive Stowers cut through tackles to grab a good double, while also getting the roll on for centre Kameli Kuruyabakis touchdown midway through the second half, before the game again degenerated into ugly stuff.
Rather than the rough play, Marist coach Jason Hamlin was more likely to wince at his own young teams poor passing when on attack, as well as the key dropped ball and a few poor tactical kicking options.
The day marked their fourth-straight defeat to a Top 4 team after a promising start to their campaign. Were probably at our level now, Hamlin said.
Its the passes they dont give, the inaccurate little action. Im happy enough they played a bit in the second half.
The exuberance stuff gets us in those positions, then the inexperience and lack of rugby at this level stops us [capitalising].
While five players leaving the park at various times was not a good look for Pirates coach Phillip Morris, he did not think the team needed a strong rebuke about their discipline, feeling the dismissals at the end came from being fatigued.
I think they just ran out of gas, we played with 13 and 14 men. Im proud of the way they stuck at it, could have dropped their heads.
The support play today [was good], and better at the breakdown this week.
After a sloppy start with their passing as Pirates were playing without maestro Denning Tyrell (broken finger) or regular fullback Samu Etuati, and then lost two outside backs, they still uncorked some good running tries.
However, a toll as taken as both first-five Ricky Boniface (leg) and No8 Lasa Ulukuta (thumb) left the field the worse for wear.
Marists discipline also cost them at times, conceding penalties right in front as Lafi, about the third-choice goalkicker, was accurate with his casual style.
Down 3-0, a poor Marist clearance only found Stowers in open pastures and that was all he needed to scythe through two cover tackles on a 35m dash to the posts.
Marist replied with a penalty through second-five Tyson Manaena and would have rated their chances as Alaifea and Dawai left the field.
However, Lafi added another three-pointer as despite being two short out wide Pirates were still willing to spin the ball and take on their smaller opposition, or try very risky chip kicks inside their 22m.
Prop Willie Kabakaba burrowed over from close range after good leadup work by Ulukuta and second-five Johnny Mow.
Lafi added another penalty and then hooker Junior Tume put Boniface through a big gap to bring Pirates on attack again the ball spreading to the returned Alaifea to score in the corner, which Lafi converted from the touchline.
Right on halftime, Pirates added a brilliant 50m try as Taumaletua dashed blindside from the scrum then stepped infield, with the ball being spread to Stowers who, despite a bad bounce pass, still regathered and forced his way over for 35-3.
It got no better for Marist after the resumption as some tough tackling on their outside backs resulted in a poor inside pass which Mow gratefully accepted and dashed off to score.
While outgunned, Marists youngsters did not give up as prop Trent Hemi drove to the line, then the ball was spread, with centre Josaia Bogileka putting winger Simon Dribben over untouched, which Manaena converted from the chalk.
Stowers replied with a big midfield bust and league-style pass out to Boniface, who set up Kuruyabaki to power through two cover tackles and score.
But the final 15 minutes became a mess as Marist camped in Pirates half due to Matthews and Lafi being given yellow cards after a series of infringements, and playmakers Boniface and Ulukuta getting hurt.
Gudsell tapped and ran everything, his probing being rewarded with a try.
But when both teams came up punching, Tihema binned both halfbacks and called the match off for safety reasons.
Pirates 47 (Clive Stowers 2, Motoi Alaifea, Johnny Mow, Willie Kabakaba, Kameli Kuruyabaki tries, Manulua Lafi 2 pen, 3 con, Josaia Dawai pen, con) bt Marist 22 (Simon Dibben, Rory Gudsell, Ryan Gill tries, Tyson Manaena pen, 2 con). HT: 35-3.
By Jared Smith – WANGANUI CHRONICLE