Marist in stunning win over Waimea
Wanderers are now alone at the top of the Car Company Nelson Bays division one rugby competition after Marist delivered a telling blow at Jubilee Park on Saturday.
While Taylors Contracting Wanderers took care of business with a 38-17 win over Kahurangi at Brightwater, Wakatu Hotel Marist produced their best effort of the season to beat Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys 33-17 in front of a stunned audience in Richmond. Meanwhile, Galbraith Group Nelson were celebrating their first win of the season after comfortably disposing of Stoke 32-5 at Neale Park.
Marist 33 WOB 17 A reshuffled Marist backline enhanced the potency of their attack as new first five-eighth Seta Sauira turned back the years at Jubilee Park.
Stationed on the wing in his previous outings, Sauira formed an effective new combination with halfback Shaun Begg as the new look midfield of Devon Scott and Latham Jones also showed renewed confidence after the previous week's stifled efforts against Kahurangi.
Marist had made good use of a useful first half breeze as tries to Jones, fullback Jackson Harvey and winger Lote Saulekaleka helped push them to a 28-10 lead at the break. Inspired by Sauira's instinctive skills and Scott's penetrative running, Marist adopted their preferred tactic of moving the ball at every opportunity.
While they'd add only one further try during the second half, a second to Saulekaleka, Marist never genuinely looked in danger of relinquishing the initiative to the home side.
Some flakey Waimea defence certainly helped Marist's cause and again there was no lack of effort up front where Waimea's try-scoring loosies, No 8 Dale Russ and flanker Sam Winsloe, both showed plenty of commitment. Winsloe's outstanding work at the breakdowns and strong ball-carrying earmarked him as one of Waimea's best performers.
Waimea's forwards had taken a typically direct approach early on as a strong set piece had Marist struggling for counters.
But there was no denying Marist and with the experience of seasoned players such as Callum Taylor, Gavin Briggs and Steffan James complementing the efforts of new boys Liam Boshoff and Luke Collier, Marist had enough in reserve to complete a handy win.
Wanderers 38 Kahurangi 17 Two tries inside the last three minutes saw Wanderers' winning margin blow out to 21 points at the Brightwater Domain.
While it might not have done justice to Kahurangi's contribution to a competitive match, it was certainly indicative of Wanderers' overall dominance.
Kahurangi were constantly looking for the attacking options, although Wanderers' forwards applied steady pressure to ensure they created sufficient tryscoring opportunities.
Wanderers eventually outscored Kahurangi by six tries to two, with winger Kerehama Barrett scoring twice to bring his season's tally to six. But it was the late tries to lively No 8 Tone Ng Shiu, from a tap penalty with three minutes remaining, and finally to winger Riley Johnston from a 75m intercept with time up, that eventually saw the home team distance themselves.
Wanderers had led just 20-14 at halftime, with a Mike Wells penalty reducing that to three points seven minutes after the restart.
After first half tries to centre Hana Corbett-Burrows and to big lock Ben Nadrugu, Wells' early penalty success was to be Kahurangi's only second half scoring.
Wanderers had already scored three first half tries through lock Ethan Reuben, flanker Loa Windley and winger Barrett, before further second half tries to Barrett and finally to Ng Shiu and Johnston killed any chance of a late Kahurangi fightback.
Lock Alex Ainley's effective ball-winning, carrying and offloading skills were central to another solid Wanderers forward effort as front rowers Tyler Kearns, Siua Halanukonuka, Mike Lattin and flanker Steve Soper also added plenty of physicality to the equation. Centre Sione Holani featured with some ferocious defence while for Kahurangi, loosies Dan Crowther and Ziggy Tu'ua impressed up front.
A stunning second half spot tackle by Sadrugu on Halanukonuka also denied Wanderers a certain try with a four-man overlap.
Nelson 32 Stoke 5 Mitchell Thwaites contributed three of his team's four tries as Nelson had reason to smile after a disappointing three-loss start to their season.
Thwaites started the game at No 8 but ended it at hooker. It made no difference to his overall contribution as one of the key figures in Nelson's convincing forward effort. Stoke couldn't match the urgency of Nelson's pack in which locks Dan Climo and Macka Misinale and energetic loose forward Ethan Blackadder complemented Thwaites' outstanding efforts.
There was also added punch among Nelson's back division with Tasman Makos winger Mitchell Scott making a belated start to the club season at fullback. Vai Asomua also made his first appearance of the season on the wing and celebrated the occasion with Nelson's fourth try.
First five-eighth James Lash and midfielder David Havili guided the team expertly around the park.
Stoke's forwards never shirked the challenge presented by Nelson's pack, although Nelson's effective defensive line speed ensured that Stoke's attacking options were limited. Chris Little still provided penetration on Stoke's wing and Matt Gaines battled gamely at halfback.
Prop Steve Price scored Stoke's only try after first half tries to Thwaites and Asomua had given Nelson a handy 20-0 lead at the break. Nelson steadily distanced themselves after the restart, with the sending off of flanker Sean Scott late in the second half for a second yellow card - the first for a shoulder charge on Lash and second for punching - clearly doing little to promote Stoke's cause.