It has taken until the 12th week but the Tasman Tanning Premier top four has returned to a familiar look, with McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu continuing to pick up steam while Utiku Old Boys drop out after their third straight loss on Saturday.
Utiku left it all to do against Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist at a windy Spriggens Park as they trailed 17-8 approaching midway through the second half, after Marist halfback Rory Gudsell, hooker Kayden Shedlock and prop Tom Nepia all scored.
However, with the breeze now behind them, Utiku rumbled up through their loose forwards and second-five Samu Kubunavanua turned on the pace to score twice in the corner – the first a brilliant individual run down the sideline and the second from being on the end of the chain after a long buildup by the forwards and backs.
The tries bookended Ricky Alabaster’s second penalty and Utiku seemed comfortable at 21-17 with time winding down.
Yet Marist second-five Matt Neilson swooped on an Utiku fumble and, after a series of tap penalties, lock Sam Stewart took a short pass and smashed his way over by the posts.
Utiku swept back down to the Marist line but the home team held out to pick up their first victory since May 9.
The visitor’s faces said it all as they walked off – this had been a ‘must win’ game to keep alive their hopes of making the semifinals.
At Ohakune, Ruapehu may have won but they did not set the world on fire with their 13-0 victory over bottom of the table Harvey Round Motors Ratana.
Plenty of mistakes in the first half left the scoreboard unattended, before Ruapehu got home with tries from their frontrowers Roman Tutauha and Karl Parker.
They will move up into fourth spot for the first time this year, although technically Utiku still have the advantage as they beat Ruapehu in Taihape on April 11.
It sets up another important clash this weekend, when Ruapehu will travel to Memorial Park to meet the table leaders PGG Wrightsons/Ballance Taihape for their newly won Grand Hotel Challenge Shield.
Waverley Harvesting Border rebounded from their loss to Ruapehu last week and it was Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau who caught the flack at the Country Club, as they were hammered 57-0.
Border already had their bonus point after 30 minutes at 38-0, although they would only add two more second half tries.
Centre Poasa Waqanibau and fullback Fraser Middleton scored doubles, while halfback Lindsay Horrocks made a welcome return from injury to score another of the nine tries.
In the senior grade, Sealswinslow Pirates left their run too late as, despite an 84-7 slaughter of Border, they were still short of the Top 6 that will make up the championship group. Pirates are now the clear favourites to win the consolation crown, as they have a 12-point advantage over the next highest team in Taihape, who were beaten 25-10 by Counties, and the consolation grade will just play round robin games until the end of the season.
Hunterville confirmed their status on top of the table with a 34-0 win over Kaierau, by virtue of having already beaten Ruapehu narrowly. Ruapehu showed Tech they will be in for a tough time playing the other top teams every week, after a 51-3 thumping at the Racecourse.
Speirs Food Marton still have an outside chance of squeezing into the semifinals, but it will take a big effort after they led Ngamatapouri at halftime at Marton Park before losing 27-12.
Results, June 13
Tasman Tanning Premier, Week 12
Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 24 (Rory Gudsell, Kayden Shedlock, Tom Nepia, Sam Stewart tries, Grayson Tihema 2 con) bt Utiku OB 21 (Samu Kubunavanua 2, Malakai Volou tries, Ricky Alabaster 2 pen). HT: 12-0.
Grand Hotel Challenge Shield – PGG Wrightsons/Ballance Taihape 10 (Tom Wells try, pen, con) bt Integrity Motors Pirates 5 (Ricky Boniface try). HT: 5-3 Pirates. Waverley Harvesting Border 57 (Poasa Waqanibau 2, Fraser Middleton 2, Anaru Haerewa, Renato Tikoilosolomone, Lindsay Horrocks, Bobo Ulukuta, Tom Symes tries, Jack Lupton 6 con) bt Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 0. HT: 45-0.
McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu 13 (Roman Tutauha, Karl Parker tries, Zyon Hekenui pen) bt Harvey Round Motors Ratana 0. HT: 0-all.
Grand Irish Bar MVP Points
At Spriggens Park: Daniel FitzGerald (Marist No8) 3 points, Tom Nepia (Marist prop), Mark Logan (Utiku OB hooker) and Samu Kubunavanua (Utiku OB second five) 1 each.
At Spriggens Park: Tom Wells (Taihape first five) 3, Timi Teepa (Taihape flanker), S’aena Vili (Pirates centre) and Denning Tyrell (Pirates first five) 1 each.
At Kaierau Country Club: Brett Edgcombe (Border lock) 3, Poasa Waqanibau (Border second five) 2, Kieran Hussey (Border flanker) 1.
At Ruapehu: Roman Tutauha (Ruapehu hooker) 3, Zyon Hekenui (Ruapehu fullback) 2, Charlie Mete (Ratana No 8) 1.
MVP leaders: Kieran Hussey (Border) and Denning Tyrell (Pirates) 10 each, Michael Nabuliwaqa (Utiku OB) 9, Sam Stewart (Marist) 8, S’aena Vili and Clive Stowers (Pirates), Peter Rowe, Zyon Hekenui and Roman Tutauha (Ruapehu) 6 each, Ace Malo (Kaierau), Jack Lupton (Border), Lasa Ulukuta (Pirates) and Jamie Hughes (Ratana) 5 each, Bobo Ulukuta (Border), Ritchie Graham and Daniel FitzGerald (Marist), Pena Ulukuta (Pirates), William Short, Andrew Evans and Troy Brown (Ruapehu), Johnson Hiroa, Paora McCarthy, Brett Nicholls and Timi Teepa (Taihape) and Malakai Volou (Utiku OB) 4 each.
Senior Championship, Week 13.
At Racecourse: Sealswinslow Pirates bt Border 84-7. HT: 45-7.
At Racecourse: Marist Celtic bt Ratana 67-5. HT: 20-5.
At Racecourse: Marist Buffalo’s bt Utiku OB 34-0. HT: 10-0.
At Marton Park: Ngamatapouri bt Speirs Food Marton 27-12. HT: 12-10 Marton.
At Hunterville (Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield): Kelso Hunterville bt Kaierau 34-0. HT: 10-0.
At Memorial Park: Counties bt Taihape 25-10. HT: 20-0.
At Rochfort Park: Ruapehu 51 bt Tech 3. HT: 12-3.
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle