Commitment and passion were keys to Collegiate's 12-8 defeat of Marist in an absorbing top-of-the- table division two clash at Lindisfarne.
After being pressured in the first half on Saturday, and down 8-6 at halftime, Collegiate rallied in the second half, capitalising on Marist's hefty penalty count.
The meeting of the only unbeaten teams was always going to be tight. Neither side took any prisoners, the Marist forwards exerting considerable pressure on Collegiate's ball early.
Collegiate found it difficult to protect the ball and were often on the back foot as the visitors' forwards took it to them. Collegiate were unable to develop structure in the wake of Marist's onslaught.
Towards the end of the first half, signs emerged that Collegiate had absorbed early pressure. Outstanding Marist flanker Willy Pera was the best player on the paddock in the first half but was more subdued after the interval.
Jason McMath punished Marist with four successful penalty goals from five attempts. Marist scored the only try but could not clinch another near the end when it mounted desperate assaults.
"It was a bloody tough game for all 80 minutes," Collegiate captain Ratah Kite said after the game.
"We were slow to start but it was a big team effort in a big physical game."
Collegiate's former Fijian International and player-coach Joe Koroiadi, 41, said the win was one of his proudest moments with the team, comments echoed by former player and coach Brent Davidson, now the team's "sponsor and travelling social manager". Koroiadi played 20 minutes of the game in his second hitout this season.
Marist player-coach Nathan Burgess said his team was "out- passioned at the end of the day". "Rather than saying our discipline let us down, we did not play to the referee, which we had to do."
The young and improving Waiau Star cemented their promise with an impressive 36-12 win over visitors Wrights Bush.
"The win was creditable because Wrights Bush is a capable side. Our third win of the season was far from perfect but certainly encouraging," Waiau Star coach Jerry Adams said.
"Waiau Star is certainly a team of the future to look out for," Wrights Bush coach Brendan Hamilton said.
Pirates-Old Boys notched a converted try to peg back Albion Excelsior for a last-gasp 32-29 win (four tries apiece) at Surrey Park.
"It was a very tough point-for- point battle," Pirates-Old Boys coach Daniel Rolton said. "Our loosies stepped up and the team fought back after two yellow cards."
Albion Excelsior coach Jason Webb said the game was another tough battle and could have gone either way but his team had lacked numbers at training.
Blues coach Shannon Townson said his team was down on actual playing numbers when beating hosts Balfour-Lumsden 23-5. At least four were out with injuries or sickness and all three of the coaching bench had to front up.
Manager John Wilkison said Balfour-Lumsden did well but missed opportunities, although they scored first and applied pressure to the visitors.
Midlands retained the Hamilton Shield by accounting for Central Star 22-12. Successful coach Steve Unahi said his backs appreciated front-foot ball. First five-eighth Mark Baynes and Angus O'Donnell (lock) and open flanker Cam Dawson contributed well.
Central Star coach Brad Anderson dismissed his team's showing as "disappointing, and I didn't have to tell them after because they knew".
Favourites Riverton were given a fright by hosts Woodlands under lights on Friday night in their 10-5 win. Woodlands rose to the occasion as they did when beating Collegiate last season.
- The Southland Times