PGG Wrightson/Ballance Taihape overcame a massive psychological barrier when they finally reversed 23 straight defeats to McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu with a 25-23 win in Ohakune on Saturday.
But it was only just.
Despite scoring four tries to two, Taihape did not have much success in the goal-kicking department, while returning Ruapehu first-five Zyon Hekenui contributed the full set of conversions, penalties and first drop goal of the 2015 Tasman Tanning Premier competition.
Flanker Marcus Tottman scored two tries for the visitors, while captain Tremaine Gilbert and big outside back Cyrus Tasi also crossed.
After three straight years of making the grand final, Ruapehu’s campaign now stands on shaky ground after a previously unheard of four defeats, although they have all been close bonus-point losses.
It is as many losses as Ruapehu’s previous two seasons combined.
Taihape move to the top of the table, setting up a big clash against likewise undefeated Waverley Harvesting Border for the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield on Saturday.
Coming off the bye week, Border were soon back in the swing of things with six tries in their 38-7 win over Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist at Dallison Park. Although not the 65-14 destruction which happened the last time they met in Waverley in July, Border were comfortable enough with their loose forwards getting on the tryscorers list.
In the senior competition, the weeks of near-continuous rainfall left Ngamatapouri’s new pitch in the Waitotara Valley a mudheap, forcing their important clash with Tech to be called off. The new field had been built on farmland by the locals in the months leading up to the competition kickoff in March, receiving the all clear from the Wanganui Rugby Union.
The game is now in limbo until perhaps the end of the round robin, when it could be played on a reserve day if required to sort out final placings.
Kelso Hunterville are now running hot, after they saw off another potential contender to their crown with a 30-20 win at home over the previously unbeaten Sealswinslow Pirates.
Ruapehu also moved ahead of Pirates, remaining undefeated with a 34-0 disposal of Taihape at Rochfort Park. One of the best games was at McNab Domain in Kaiwhaiki as Counties came from ten points down at halftime to beat Marist Buffalos 32-27.
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle