Spotswood United sent an ominous warning to other sides in the Taranaki premier competition after they hit top gear to embarrass defending champions Southern 61-13 on Saturday.
After watching a certain four competition points slip away in last week's last-minute draw with Inglewood, Spotswood United were determined to get themselves back into the top four when they trekked south to Hawera.
What coaches Brendan Crowley and Brent Perrett got was an 80-minute performance full of attacking and hard-nosed rugby.
Although they have plenty of individual players capable of busting a game open, Spotswood United had not, until the weekend, fully hit their straps.
The end result was a demoralising loss for Southern, who have enjoyed victory just once in 2014.
They conceded eight tries to Spotswood United, including doubles to Josh Hamilton and Dion Beer.
Hamilton was also in great form with the boot, landing six conversions and three penalties for a personal haul of 31 points.
He, along with the front row, earned special praise from the coaches who were reluctant to single out anyone because they felt it was a complete team effort.
Southern coach Jason Skipper was at a loss to explain the nature of the defeat because his side had trained well all week and he had almost a complete squad to choose from, the exception being first five-eighth Daniel Brooks, who pulled out on Friday because he was suffering the effects of a head knock.
Despite the thrashing, he said blindside flanker Jesse Parete played well, as did lock Peter Northcott.
The JD Hickman feature match was also fairly one-sided, with New Plymouth Old Boys dominating Coastal in their 25-3 win at Vogeltown Park.
The scoreline could have been much greater had Old Boys not blown a number of clearcut chances in the first half.
Such was Old Boys' domination in the opening 40 minutes, Coastal only enjoyed a few minutes in the opposition 22.
They failed to take advantage of it though, as they dropped the ball a couple of times near the line when they looked a certain chance to score.
The game opened up more in the second half and there were a number of passages of good play from both sides.
Old Boys were clearly better up front at times, which allowed impressive halfback David Ormrod to dictate play superbly from the base of the ruck. His combination with first five-eighth Codey Rei and second five-eighth and captain Liam McBride caused problems for the Coastal defence.
Ormrod, who has returned to Taranaki from Auckland, must be a chance of making the Taranaki national provincial squad, although coach Colin Cooper has already contracted Jamison Gibson-Park and Chris Smylie.
If they do take three halfbacks, and it's anticipated they will, it is likely to come down to Ormrod, Spotswood United's Warwick Lahmert or Coastal's Brett Goodin.
McBride was satisfied with his side's improvement from the previous week when they were beaten by Clifton, although he was frustrated at the number of chances they blew in the first half.
"There was a bit of that, although we always had the confidence to keep going," he said.
"There was not too much panic at halftime because we had plenty of belief, which is a good thing."
He thought his side showed more urgency from the week before.
"We didn't play for 80 minutes last week and we had a bit of a goal to keep our defence up and not let anyone through and I thought we did that today."
Inglewood came back from 10-7 down at halftime to beat Stratford 33-10 at the TET Stadium.
Playing into the wind in the first half, Inglewood ramped things up in the second spell to score four more tries.
Flanker Mark Neilson grabbed a double as did No 8 Mitchell Brown and hooker Timo Tutavaha.
Stratford coach Brendan Haami said his side played their best half of rugby all season but could not back it up in the second half.
Too many mistakes crept in to Stratford's game, although Haami said they continued to create chances, which pleased him.
Prop Daniel Bishop, centre Morehu Connor-Phillips and openside flanker Ricky Pepper were the pick of the Stratford players.
AT A GLANCE
- Taranaki Daily News
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