Rimutaka's gutsy 16-15 win over Johnsonville, played out dramatically in appalling conditions on Saturday, has seen the locals take a big step towards keeping premier rugby status for next year.
The win, the side's second in the cut-throat Hardham Cup, leaves them in a three-way tussle with fellow premiers Wests and Johnsonville for two top places but, arguably, in the box seat.
The goal kicking of Rimutaka coach and first-five Ray MacDonald proved the difference, with the veteran nailing three penalties in the first half as Johnsonville, playing into the wind, struggled to get their game going.
A well-taken try to prop Jamie Pita after a drive from the lineout, and the oh-so-crucial sideline conversion from MacDonald had Rimutaka out to 16-3 and looking good.
Johnsonville came back however with two tries with a missed conversion off the second allowing Rimutaka to keep their noses in front and take the four valuable competition points.
With two games to play there are permutations aplenty and MacDonald, a former New Zealand Maori rep, is cautious about the rocky path ahead.
"That was a tough game but we defended well in the second half," he says.
Rimutaka are at home [Maoribank, 3pm] on Saturday against the Norths seconds who, in the Hardham have not won a game but, MacDonald says, represent a big threat.
Rimutaka (on 10 points), who experienced a fearful and winless first-round Swindale Shield, can probably make their season safe by beating Norths.
If ever a first win for the year on a club's home ground was going to bring the bacon home this is it.
Elsewhere Johnsonville (9) will meet Wests (13) where the latter winning will be a result Rimutaka, and their supporters, are also wishing for.
In the Jubilee Cup Upper Hutt remain looking for an elusive second-round win following a brave but, in the end, comprehensive 3-16 loss away to Tawa at Lyndhurst Park.
A 3-all half-time was well- earned and even a cause for optimism but the physical toll on the lighter and injury-ravaged Upper Hutt pack played out as the game, the conditions and Tawa's forwards' size took their toll.
With two matches to play, both at home against Hutt OB-Marist and fellow stragglers Petone, Upper Hutt will be looking for a change of fortune to end the hoodoo threatening to leave them winless over two seasons and 14 games of Jubilee Cup play.
In senior one play, Upper Hutt's 17-28 loss to Tawa has the side in the bottom two and relegation threatened, a bitter pill after earning promotion mid- season. More premier sport, p46
- Upper Hutt Leader