Integrity Motors Pirates and PGG Wrightsons/Ballance Taihape will scrap it out for the top of the Tasman Tanning Premier table this coming weekend after they both won their derby games on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Utiku Old Boys will feel the pressure of McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu coming up behind them after they led the Memorial Park clash with Taihape, before being hauled in during the second-half to lose narrowly 26-21.
Utiku’s Fijian contingent were again in good form as game MVP Michael Nabuliwaqa backed up his two tries at the Town vs Country trial with another double, while No8 Malakai Volou also crossed.
However, Taihape added three second-half tries, although none could be converted.
The outside backs all crossed with Taylor Transom, Glenn Horton, Paora McCarthy, and Jaye Flaws getting their team’s five pointers.
At Spriggens Park, Pirates made a comfortable defence of the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield, beating their neighbours Dave Hopkins Carriers Marist 48-19.
Second-five Patrick Hiscox and winger Clive Stowers both scored two of their team’s eight tries, Pirates getting four in each half.
Marist had a better second half with two tries, but the game was decided.
Down at the Pa, Harvey Round Motors Ratana finally got a tick in the win column for 2015 when they came from behind at halftime to beat Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 26-14.
Both teams fought to a 14-14 stalemate back in April, but after tries by Kameli Kuruyabaki and Karl Pascoe had the visitors in front at the break, Ratana scored three unanswered tries to take the match away.
Second-five Pehira Huwyler had a strong match, as did tryscorers Jamie Hughes and Marama Penetito.
Interestingly, in three of the four Premier games, the team leading at halftime was beaten.
In the senior competition, the big clash was over at Hunterville between the remaining undefeated teams in Ruapehu and Kelso Hunterville, for the Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield.
Fitting the occasion, Hunterville led narrowly 15-12 at halftime, then Ruapehu came back and the game was tied 22-22 going into a pulsating final 10 minutes, with the visitors doing what they do best – finding the way to win – scoring with three minutes remaining for 27-22.
In a rare case, the match referee Ben Lourie made a point to send through an email praising both sides for a hard but fair contest.
“It was great to referee two teams out there who wanted to play positively,” said Lourie.
“I really appreciated the discipline and the leadership, particularly from the Ruapehu captain [Gabriel Hakaraia].
“Ruapehu have come a long way with their discipline from when I last refereed them in the 2014 final.
“In my opinion, [Hunterville’s] Nick Tipling played an outstanding game, leading from the front and going over to score two crucial tries.”
Ruapehu’s two bonus points is still enough to lead the table over Hunterville via a better for/against record.
In the other key match, the top six teams for the championship group have now sorted themselves out after Ngamatapouri bounced back from their loss in Ohakune to put paid to Sealswinslow Pirates’ hopes of getting through with a 25-10 win at McNab Domain.
The double-header at the Domain saw Speirs Food Marton come from behind at halftime to beat Counties 22-10 and are safe in the top six, as are Tech after their 39-12 win over Ratana.
The senior championship and consolation grades will separate after this coming weekend of games.
-Results, June 6.
Tasman Tanning Premier, Week 11
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – Integrity Motors Pirates 48 (Patrick Hiscox 2, Clive Stowers 2, S’aena Vili, Pena Ulukuta, Sanelle Ah Chookoon, Brett Turner tries, Denning Tyrell 4 con) bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 19 (Ian Hawkes, Scott Dowman, Kayden Shedlock tries, Grayson Tihema 2 con). HT: 24-5.
Harvey Round Motors Ratana 26 (Kane Tamou, Marama Penetito, Jamie Hughes, Isaac Fonotoe tries, Caleb Maraku 3 con) bt Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 14 (Kameli Kuruyabaki, Karl Pascoe tries, Ace Malo 2 con). HT: 14-7 Kaierau.
McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu 25 (Teira Cowan, Jackson Campbell, Taina Wallace tries, Zyon Hekenui 2 pen, 2 con) bt Waverley Harvesting Border 14 (Andrew Retallick try, Jack Lupton 3 pen). HT: 11-10 Border.
PGG Wrightsons/Ballance Taihape 26 (Taylor Transom, Glenn Horton, Paora McCarthy, Jaye Flaws tries, Transom 2 pen) bt Utiku OB 21 (Michael Nabuliwaqa 2, Malakai Volou tries, Ricky Alabaster 2 pen). HT: 16-8 Utiku OB.
-Grand Irish Bar MVP Points
At Spriggens Park: Clive Stowers (Pirates winger) 3 points, Faalafi Vave (Pirates flanker) 2, Daniel Fitzgerald (Marist No 8) 1.
At Ratana: Pehira Huwyler (Ratana second five) 2, Joe Edwards (Kaierau flanker), Josh Edwards (Kaierau halfback), Jamie Hughes (Ratana centre) and Marama Penetito (Ratana flanker) 1 each.
At Waverley: Peter Rowe (Ruapehu flanker) 3, Zyon Hekenui (Ruapehu fullback) 2, Andrew Retallick (Border lock) 1.
At Taihape: Michael Nabuliwaqa (Utiku OB winger) 3, Brett Nicholls (Taihape halfback), Slade Hay-Horton (Taihape prop) and Malakai Volou (Utiku OB No8) 1 each.
-MVP Leaders: Kieran Hussey (Border), Michael Nabuliwaqa (Utiku OB) and Denning Tyrell (Pirates) 9, Sam Stewart (Marist) 8, Peter Rowe (Ruapehu) and Clive Stowers (Pirates) 6, Ace Malo (Kaierau), Jack Lupton (Border), S’aena Vili and Lasa Ulukuta (Pirates), Jamie Hughes (Ratana) 5, Bobo Ulukuta (Border), Ritchie Graham (Marist), Pena Ulukuta (Pirates), Zyon Hekenui, Troy Brown, William Short and Andrew Evans (Ruapehu), Johnson Hiroa, Paora McCarthy and Brett Nicholls (Taihape) and Malakai Volou (Utiku OB) 4. Ten players with 3 points each.
-Senior Championship, Week 12.
At Spriggens Park: Celtic bt Buffalo’s 41-7. HT: 17-7.
At Kaierau C.C: Kaierau bt Taihape 30-7. HT: 7-all.
At Ratana Pa: Tech bt Ratana 39-12. HT: 17-12.
At Waverley: Utiku OB bt Border 16-10. HT: 11-3.
At McNab Domain: Ngamatapouri bt Sealswinslow Pirates 25-10. HT: 10-3.
At McNab Domain: Speirs Food Marton bt Counties 22-10. HT: 10-8 Counties.
At Hunterville (Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield): Kelso Hunterville bt Ruapehu 27-22. HT: 15-12.
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle