Spotswood United dominate Tukapa
Spotswood United co-captain Matt Goodwin summed up the mood around the outskirts of the "dog pound" at Yarrow Stadium on a bright Saturday afternoon.
"That was bloody awesome," he said, moments after the final whistle signalled his side's first win over Tukapa since the 1990s.
"I lost count of the years I've been on the end of a few hidings. There was nothing up for grabs today apart from a few competition points but I'm bloody thrilled."
Spotswood United's 28-19 win was based on a dominant scrum, an accurate lineout and probably having a few more attacking threats than Tukapa.
It was tough work, though, with second five-eighth Seta Tamanivalu's match-winning try coming with little more than 15 minutes to play, which gave the home side a nine-point buffer.
Although Tukapa banged hard on the door, they couldn't break through some impressive Spotswood United defence, apart from a try to prop Ben Siffleet right on the stroke of halftime.
That gave Tukapa a slender 16-13 lead at the break, a lead some would argue they were lucky to have.
Both sides were guilty of kicking away far too much possession, while Spotswood United's fans will be questioning why wing Waisake Naholo only got one decent crack in space at the opposition.
Spotswood United just didn't bring him into the game, which was a shame because it was like having a Ferrari parked in your garage and taking the bus to work.
Not that Goodwin or his team were too worried. They were deservedly proud of the way they stuck to task, their want and desire clear to see.
"It was an awesome effort from the boys, we dug deep for 80 [minutes]," he said.
Goodwin thought his side's discipline had let them down at times, especially early, allowing Jack Cameron to slot three first-half penalties.
"But we kept plodding away and we came up trumps with a couple of tries and that was enough to get the boys home. I think we defended well for 79 minutes. It was just that one minute out from halftime when we let them in with a soft try really."
The hooker was proud of the scrum effort his players put in and he felt they were not getting the recognition they deserved.
"I think our scrum has been under-rated all season and it's been a work-on for us and we are looking to utilise it. We've got a bit of depth in the front row and whoever starts is told to start with a hiss and a roar."
The big question most Spotswood United fans will be asking now is if their side is good enough to win the premier title.
On the basis of what they have produced so far, you would have to say yes, especially when you consider they have quality loose forwards Iopu Iopu and Toa Halafihi to come back.
They are also well led by Goodwin and co-captain Warwick Lahmert, whose battle with Tukapa opposite Jamison Gibson-Park was a highlight of the match.
Elsewhere, competition leaders Coastal had to battle away to beat a committed Clifton side 22-17 at Okato.
Coastal coach Joe Lawn thought his side were second best in a lot of areas but they did enough to win. Over confidence might have played a part, although he gave a fair bit of credit to Clifton and the way they played.
Down 7-5 at the break, Coastal brought on Taranaki captain Kane Barrett in the second spell and he helped get them over the advantage line. Flanker Bryn Hudson also carried the ball with better effect in the second half.
Clifton's chances were not helped by flanker Latu Sisifa receiving a red card for a high tackle.
Many in the Clifton camp thought it was a harsh penalty by visiting North Harbour referee Brendon Pickerill because they had a view that the Coastal player was falling into the tackle.
Clifton coach Ian Snook was pleased with the effort of his players, especially with a makeshift front row and the loss of several prominent players.
He singled out centre Josh Kendall and No 8 Mark Shaw for their performances.
New Plymouth Old Boys bounced back from their loss to Tukapa last week by thrashing Inglewood 42-11 at Vogeltown Park.
Former Taranaki rep Codey Rei had a superb game at first five-eighth for Old Boys, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while he also kicked three conversions, a penalty and landed a drop goal.
Old Boys co-coach Tony Earl said the scoreline probably did not reflect just how hard his players had to work for the win.
Although the score was close at halftime, Earl said his players created a lot more opportunities, which they took, in the second half. They did that by creating quick ball and playing the game at pace, two trademarks of their season to date.
He thought Rei, who played at first five-eighth, was particularly good, while the entire Old Boys pack were impressive, as was halfback David Ormrod.
Inglewood's Heiden Bedwell-Curtis continued his excellent form on the side of the scrum, while No 8 Mitch Brown battled away.
Results, standings: Page 19
Taranaki Daily News