Tasman Tanning Premier has turned on its axis after PGG Wrightson/Ballance Taihape continued their recent tradition of upsetting McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu during the first round of games in Ohakune.
After losing 23 straight games to their northern neighbour, Taihape defeated Ruapehu for the first time in April 2015 and every year since have won the first competition game between the sides, including 17-10 at a wet Rochfort Park on Saturday.
Taihape, led by player-coach Dane Whale, were determined to test a home side who had previously notched up comfortable wins over bottom-of-the-table Settler’s Honey Ngamatapouri and Harvey Round Motors Ratana.
The visitor’s led 12-3 at halftime, scoring their tries through outside backs Jaye Flaws and Te Rangi Tapu McLeod, along with front rower Wiremu Cotterill.
Ruapehu came back in the second half with their try by halfback Kahl Elers-Green.
Similar to some other Premier games, the match was officiated by one referee using volunteer touch judges, and issue of sideline abuse which Wanganui Rugby Referees Association facilitator Neville Hopkins highlighted this week again reared its head.
After one Taihape try was awarded following the ball allegedly going forward, a Ruapehu spectator had to be spoken too after exchanging words with the ref.
Ruapehu had to play with 14 men at one stage after 2018’s top tryscorer Shaquille Waara was sinbinned for a high tackle.
The upset moved Taihape into the Top 4 and allowed Black Bull Liquor Pirates to take over the top of the leaderboard as the sole undefeated team following their 43-5 win over Ratana at Spriggens Park.
Retaining the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield, three Pirates players scored doubles in prop Raymond Salu, winger Uttu Spitzenberg and first-five Fa’alele Iosua, and they will now take the Shield on the road to face a confident Taihape this week.
There was another shield on the line over in South Taranaki and home side Waverley Harvesting Border are the inaugural holders as they pulled away from Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 45-22 for the Jake Alabaster Memorial Shield.
Only up 19-15 at halftime, Border scored four more tries in the second half, with five-pointers coming from speedy outside backs Kaveni Dabonaise and Harry Symes, along with MVP co-leader Dylan Pearce.
Hooker Jack Yarrall scored two of Marist’s three tries.
Marist losing two in a row drops them out of the Premier Top 4, however there was better club news in the Senior grade as both Celtic and Buffalo’s picked up big wins in the sixth round.
Buffalo’s, the third tier side of their club, had a win they can dine out on for a while after they ended Kaierau’s one-week tenure with the Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield, coming from behind at halftime to beat them 23-18 at the Country Club.
Meanwhile, Celtic went to McNab Domain and ended table leader Counties’ unbeaten run 23-6, moving themselves up to third on the table while Counties fell to fourth.
Kelso Hunterville remain the only undefeated team and have climbed to second place after a hammering Taihape 55-5 at home.
Having lost the Challenge Shield in their first game, Speirs Food Marton continued their recovery with a third-straight victory, beating Black Bull Liquor Pirates 29-7 at Spriggens Park.
And Border regained the top of the table after a comfortable 39-10 win at Dallison Park over the long-travelling Utiku Old Boys.
Results, April 14.
Tasman Tanning premier, round 5 –
Spriggens Park (Grand Hotel Challenge Shield) –
Black Bull Liqour Pirates 43 (Raymond Salu 2, Uttu Spitzenberg 2, Faalele Iosua 2, Junior Ainea tries, Ainea 4 con)
bt Harvey Round Motors Ratana 5 (Afano Kuika try)
At Kaierau Country Club –
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 60 (Matt Ashworth 2, Penan Vui 2, Carlwynne Riddles 2, Ace Malo, Tai Pulumagafa, Seko Kilisi, Shandon Scott tries, Scott 5 con)
bt Settlers Honey 14 (Jim Seruwalu, Sam Kubunavanua tries,Te Tua Kemp 2 con)
At Dallison Park –
Waverley Harvesting Border 45 (Ross McDonald, Angus Middleton, Anaru Haerewa, Jason Myers, Kaveni Dabonaise, Harry Symes, Dylan Pearce tries, Nick Harding 4 con, Opitiva Dryden con)
bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 22 (Jack Yarrall 2 , Tony Henry tries, Josiah Bogileka pen, 2 con)
HT: 19-15 Border
At Rochfort Park –
PGG Wrightson/Balance Taihape 17 (Jaye Flaws, Te Rangi Tapu McLeod, Wiremu Cotterill tries, Dane Whale con)
bt McCarthy Transport Ruapehu 10 (Kahl Elers-Green try, Mitchell Millar pen, con)
Senior championship, round 5 –
Spriggens Park –
Speirs Food Marton 29 (1)
bt Black Bull Liqour Pirates 7
Kaierau Country Club (Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield) –
bt Kaierau 18 (1)
HT: 8-5 Kaierau
Dallison Park –
Border 39 (1)
bt Utiku OB 10
Kelso Hunterville 55 (1)
bt Taihape 5
McNab Domain –
bt Counties 6
Bye – Ruapehu