The Hornby Panthers kept their hopes of a top-two finish alive by winning a clash with the second placed Halswell Hornets 24-20 at Halswell Domain that was marked by spirited punch-ups.
Hornby veteran Corey Lawrie had a light hearted view on the stoush.
''It is a Hornby-Halswell clash. It (the brawl) probably escalated more than it should have but that's footy and I think everyone reined themselves in before it got too out of control.
''I was throwing punches so if I am throwing punches it must be getting out of control because I can't throw them to save myself.''
The Panthers, who started the round six points behind Halswell and in third spot, showed they were up for the contest as they won the early exchanges through their forwards.
They were rewarded in the 19th minute when Darren Gillespie crossed from close range following a penalty.
Halswell answered back with two tries to Will Tafua in the 24th and 39th minutes to take a slender 8-6 lead into halftime before the game spilled over early in the second half.
After Craig Smith scored to put Hornby back in front, the traditional rivals came together for the third all in brawl of the contest which went unpunished. The melee followed the sinbinning of Hornby centre Barry Alaimalo for fighting in the first half.
Once order was restored the game was played in a much better spirit for the final half hour as Hornby built a 12-point lead following tries to Corey Lawrie and Kodi Te Awa.
The Hornets stayed alive when Erwin Sauni cut the deficit to six before Damien Papuni's try sealed the contest eight minutes from time with the Panthers' final try.
Matt Sauni scored a late consolation for the Hornets who now trail the ladder leading Linwood Keas by three points in the minor premiership race.
The Keas had their first slip of the season, drawing 14-all with the Celebration Lions at Linwood Park.
The fourth placed Lions raced out of the blocks with tries to Benaiah Crighton, Jordan Wawatai and Peter Alaisea giving them a 14-0 lead at the interval.
Linwood showed they are on top for a reason as they stormed back with the only three tries of the second half through Mark Walsh, Siona Tuiloma and Phil Wahnig.
In the other games, Papanui won their second game of the season, beating Riccarton 30-26 at Papanui Domain after coming from 18-6 down at halftime.
Aranui's return to Wainoni Park was a forgetful one as the visiting Northern Bulldogs took the points in a close one, 16-12.
- © Fairfax NZ News