Tukapa outmuscled and outplayed Clifton, winning 29-7 at Sanders Park to grab the outright lead in the premier competition.
The home team dominated the match, scoring four tries to one to pick up a bonus point and jump above New Plymouth Old Boys by one point.
The first 20 minutes were reasonably even. Possession was dominated by the home side but most of the match was played in the middle of the park.
Both forward packs had to get dirty because of the poor ground conditions.
Tukapa captain Leighton Price was happy with the effort from his forwards. "We rate Clifton's forward pack quite highly, so we had to muscle up and we did, with the scoreboard reflecting that."
Flanker Sam Shaw and centre Nathan Hohaia scored opportunistic tries to give Tukapa a 12-0 lead at the break.
A positional switch at halftime, which saw Beaudein Waaka move from fullback to first five-eighth, improved Clifton's attack.
Waaka provided better direction and communication as Clifton at least showed more attack in the second half.
However, Tukapa proved far too strong in the second half and the score could have blown out had Jack Cameron not had an off-day with the boot. He missed a possible extra 14 points.
Still, Tukapa were far too dominant in open play, with Shaw deservedly picking up a double and Oti Wilson snatching an intercept try.
Andrew Tonks, who scored Clifton's only try, was the standout at second five-eighth.
In all, Price was stoked with his side's victory.
"Very happy - we lost to them in the first round so we wanted to get payback on them. We know we have a decent enough side and it was a matter of putting together a decent performance, which we did."
- Beaven Dewar is a Massey University student.
- Taranaki Daily News
Does more need to be done to protect NZ passports?