Unbeaten teams Wanderers and Waitohi are headed for a classic showdown at Brightwater in next Saturday's fifth round of the Bayleys Tasman Trophy competition.
Both secured contrasting wins at the weekend, Taylors Contracting Wanderers overwhelming Awatere 73-12 at the Seddon Domain, and Waitohi recovering from an 18-12 halftime deficit to secure a 36-18 bonus-point win over Central in Picton.
Driven by their impressive forward pack, Waitohi racked up 24 unanswered second-half points to be only one point adrift of Wanderers at the top of the points table.
Galbraith Group Nelson lost their Noel Barton Trophy match 23-17 to Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys at Jubilee Park, while Wakatu Hotel Marist almost cracked the ton in their remarkable 95-16 win over Renwick at Trafalgar Park.
Kahurangi secured their third Tasman Trophy win, beating Stoke 29-12 at Greenmeadows, and Harlequins scored their first win of the series, beating Moutere 25-23 despite Moutere scoring four tries to three.
Wanderers 73 Awatere 12
Wanderers, the unbeaten Tasman Trophy pacesetters, didn't take long to silence the car horns at Seddon, racing out to a 47-0 halftime lead.
Dominating possession, Wanderers' potent mix of experienced, athletic forwards and speedy backs rattled up seven tries, six of them converted by first five-eighth Jesse Pitman, before the home side regained some lost ground in the second spell, scoring two tries and holding the visitors to just 26 more points.
But the honours certainly belonged to the visitors. Midfielder Trael Joass bagged three tries, his pace and elusiveness proving hard to handle in the backline, along with openside flanker Blair Palmer and halfback Dwayne Polataivao, while Tone Ng Shiu was outstanding at No 8.
Lock Stu Campbell and flanker Lui Finau scored for the Tussocks, with Finau in outstanding form. Returning loosie James Brown also had a strong match, as did the midfield combination of Ben Filipo and Manasa Nayagi, while prop Kurt Lindsay turned in his best game of the season.
WOB 23 Nelson 17
Nelson relinquished the Noel Barton Trophy to Waimea on Saturday, although the day wasn't a total loss for the city club.
Only time will reveal the significance of Nelson's losing bonus point in their 23-17 defeat at Jubilee Park. While they remain five points clear of Waimea in fourth place on the Tasman Trophy points table, they're also one point clear in third place on the Nelson Bays championship standings - each with only two local derby matches remaining.
Still, it was a tough, uncompromising contest on Saturday, the difference ultimately resting on the efforts of the opposing kickers, Waimea's Marty Banks and Nelson's David Havili.
While Banks landed six penalties and missed only the conversion to returning fullback James Lowe's early second-half try, Havili contributed four penalties and missed with his two other attempts, including the conversion to wing Mitchell Scott's try just eight minutes from time.
Despite Waimea applying scrum pressure throughout, Nelson's forwards were clearly up for the fight against a well-drilled Waimea pack.
Two potentially potent backlines struggled for fluency against stifling defensive pressure, although individuals were still able to occasionally display their talents.
Lowe used his pace and strength to bust through from an attacking scrum five minutes after the restart, and Havili created a chance down the left flank for the pacey Scott to finish cleverly in the corner.
Both teams realised the importance of defence, as evidenced by a frustrating level of handling errors and penalty concessions.
Waimea prop Jerome Vaai continues to impress in all facets of the game, with No 8 Dale Russ and lock Tevita Cavubati also prominent. Nelson No 8 Shane Grieve produced a gutsy effort in only his first outing of the season, and lock Dan Climo continued his impressive form.
Marist 95 Renwick 16
Halfback Jackson Harvey contributed a staggering 40 points as Wakatu Hotel Marist consigned Renwick to another crossover mismatch at Trafalgar Park.
Harvey's impressive tally included three of Marist's 14 tries in the home team's 95-16 rout. He also landed 11 conversions after an early penalty success.
Flanker Dan Hytongue also scored three tries and No 10-wing Lote Saulekaleka two, as Marist took a handy 36-6 lead into the halftime break.
Marist added a further 59 points after the restart, including six tries, to come within a try of cracking the ton.
There was little Renwick could do to counter Marist's irresistible attack, despite some late consolation through tries to No 8 Amco Cassidy and young lock George Kenny. Cassidy also kicked Renwick's two first-half penalties.
Marist's forwards set an indomitable platform as their powerful ball runners and a dominant scrum allowed their backs to thrive on a wealth of front-foot ball. Try-scoring No 8 Liam Boshoff was Marist's most destructive ball carrier, enabling midfielders Devon Scott and Latham Jones to create similar havoc further out.
Harvey also added plenty of incisive running around the fringes to constantly breach Renwick's inside defence, and once behind the opposition's defensive line, Marist provided the clinical finish.
Prop Reuben Northover complemented a fine individual effort with a spectacular 40m try. Flanker Luke Collier, Scott, Jones and hooker Nathan Baxter also contributed to the try tally.
Although decisively outplayed, Renwick still got good value out of Kenny and flanker-lock Ethan Bartle.
Kahurangi 29 Stoke 12
Kahurangi secured a maximum five competition points against Stoke at Greenmeadows, but they relied on a solid first-half forward effort to anchor their victory.
Two tries to blindside flanker Manu Parkin and another to livewire No 7 Dan Crowther helped to push the visitors to a handy 19-5 lead at the break.
Kahurangi's dominance at both scrum and breakdown provided an important edge against a Stoke side that, despite struggling to find adequate first-half counters, continued to defend strongly throughout the match.
Stoke's committed defence ensured Kahurangi had to work hard for their points.
Their more muted second-half output enabled Stoke to establish a foothold, but it still wasn't enough to loosen Kahurangi's overall grip on the contest as they showed much more intensity and aggression at the breakdowns.
Kahurangi managed only one second-half try, however - to prop Lucuster Mati - while Stoke matched No 12 Jamaica Hume's first-half try with a second to tight forward Aaron Dempter.
Stoke simply struggled to produce any meaningful front foot possession, allowing Kahurangi's inside backs Andrew Knewstubb and Kenny Eggers more time and space to dictate terms.
Lock Ben Sadrugu and No 8 Ziggy Tu'ua impressed in Kahurangi's forward effort, while flankers Sean Scott and Stu Tunnicliff were at the forefront of Stoke's concerted defensive effort. Hooker Dylan Phillips, fullback McKenzie Haugh and wing Chris Little also impressed for the home team.
- The Nelson Mail