Heavy loss sees Tukapa take big slide
A loss can be costly in the premier competition this season - just ask Tukapa.
Sitting at the top of the table heading into Saturday's match against Coastal at Rahotu, Tukapa's comprehensive 29-3 loss dropped them from first to fifth.
That result meant another shift in the overall standings, with New Plymouth Old Boys moving back to the top after they beat Southern 46-29, while Spotswood United moved up to second after they thumped a hapless Stratford outfit 81-3.
The JD Hickman feature match was short of quality play but not excitement as Clifton grabbed a last minute try and conversion to snatch a 22-22 draw with Inglewood at Tikorangi.
Fullback Beaudein Waaka landed the sideline conversion to give his side two competition points.
It also kept their top four hopes alive as they ended the week four points off fourth placed Coastal.
The opening 20 minutes of the match gave spectators real hope that the game would be an open affair as the sides scored two tries a piece.
Sadly, the match closed up, mistakes became common and it turned into a battle around the fringes rather than out wide.
In the end Inglewood probably left the field more disappointed.
They dominated the opening quarter of the second half but could only add a try and a penalty to their tally.
It was not enough to hold off Clifton, who showed real character to fight back.
They pounded away at the Inglewood line for the last 10 minutes, forcing Inglewood co-captain Timo Tutavaha to concede a penalty and cop a yellow card with just a couple of minutes remaining.
Although their scrum held, Inglewood were left a man short out wide and Waaka was good enough to exploit it and score.
"I thought we were the stronger team," Inglewood co-captain Berny Hall said after the match.
"It was a really physical game but I think we blew it a few times and made some stupid decisions. It was a good game and we did get a draw, it wasn't a loss." Hall was happy to get through 80 minutes after he had been sidelined for a long period with concussion issues.
He was one of Inglewood's best forwards, along with Tutavaha, while Avon Lewis also did some good things at centre.
Clifton's effort was best summed up by the work of prop Zane Neill as he tried as hard as he could, making some good runs and helping his side to a clear edge at scrum time.
Waaka did some really good things but made too many mistakes, while Matiu Welch looked dangerous when he was given room.
Elsewhere, Old Boys had to overcome a halftime deficit of 22-17 to beat Southern at Hawera.
Old Boys co-coach Tony Earl was not overly concerned at halftime because he said his side had made so many mistakes in the first 40 minutes they were unlikely to be as bad in the second half.
He was proved right as his side scored 29 unanswered points before Southern scored at the death.
Old Boys No 8 Jonno Crossan had a day to remember as he scored a hat-trick of tries to mark a top performance.
Codey Rei's good form continued for Old Boys as he controlled play well from first five-eighth in the second half.
Southern's inability to play out the 80 minutes hurt them again as the defending champions fell to their 10th loss of the season.
Wing Lewis Ormond scored a brace of tries for the home side whose best players were blindside flanker Ricki Hoeata and wing Reece Furness.
The margin of victory would have surprised many at Rahotu as Coastal put some average form of late behind them to totally dominate Tukapa.
The return of No 8 Kelvin Weir and hooker Mitchell Campbell helped Coastal, although they had to do without their best forward of the season, flanker Bryn Hudson, who is awaiting a MRI scan after he hurt his neck the previous week against Old Boys.
Dylan Juffermans did a great job in Hudson's absence, putting in a man of the match effort.
Tukapa coach Laurence Corlett conceded his side were outplayed across the park.
They will need some sharp improvement if they are to make the top four with matches against Inglewood, Old Boys and Spotswood United remaining.
Tukapa's best player was fullback Jayson Potroz, while flanker Sam Shaw also produced another good performance.
Taranaki Daily News