Week 13 of Tasman Tanning Premier rugby was lucky for some at the weekend.
The most notable trend was the turnarounds with Waverley Harvesting Border drawing equal second on points with Integrity Motors Pirates after dishing out a 41-7 hiding to the defending champions in Waverley on Saturday.
McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu cemented its top four spot with a resounding 41-22 win over the table toppers Taihape in an early game at Memorial Park. Ruapehu also took charge of the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield for its efforts.
Then there was Utiku Old Boys exiting the top four after losing its fourth straight match in a row. Utiku was beaten 24-17 by bottom-of-the-table Ratana in a game transferred from the Pa to the Kaierau Country Club.
With Spriggens Park still under water the premier clash between Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist and Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau was played on the racecourse.
The first half was all one way traffic to Marist over a depleted Kaierau and, despite a second spell revival, Kaierau went down 38-17.
Kaierau were down on numbers with several players preferring the midwinter Ohakune Mardi Gras on Saturday night.
With three weeks to go before the semifinals the top four appear to be sorting themselves out and for some it may be a case of fighting now for home advantage. Taihape remains top of the table with 44 points, ahead of Border and Pirates tied on 42 with Ruapehu sitting on 30. Utiku has slipped to a clear fifth on 26 points.
Border coach Ross Williams was quite rightly pleased with his side’s performance.
“Yeah, that was pleasing. Normally we go into our shell when we play Pirates, but this was our first win over them in two and a half years,” Williams said yesterday.
“I thought we all played well – it was a good game, but Tom Symes, Keiran Hussy and Poasa Waqanibau, who scored a couple of tries, played particularly well, I thought. There were a couple of cards dished out, although I think Gordon (Ririnui) reffed the game well.”
The season, however, was far from over and Williams has put his team on notice to continue improving in the lead-up to the semi-finals. “Saturday was not the final, so we need to keep building. Make no mistake Pirates is a good side and they will be hard in the weeks to come,” Williams said.
Ruapehu coach Chris Winter was another rapt with his side’s performance over the competition leaders.
“It’s good to be peaking at the right time. We started the season low in numbers through injury or work commitments.
“We were probably about nine down, but we are getting almost a full complement at training now and it’s starting to show,” Winter said.
Ruapehu scored five tries to four, with No12 Troy Brown scoring a hat-trick. Zyon Hekenui kicked well and Andrew Evans had his usual good game.
Taihape may well have had their minds on travelling to the Super Rugby semi-final at Westpack Stadium later in the day to witness the Hurricanes secure a finals berth after beating the Brumbies.
By Iain Hyndman – Wanganui Chronicle