Top four break away early in club rugby
Otorohanga have led a four-team breakaway at the top of the table after just two weeks of the Waikato premier club rugby season.
OTC/Freightlines Otorohanga, The Bank Hamilton Old Boys and University have all collected a maximum 10 points from the two rounds, while defending champions Lodge City Rentals Hamilton Marist are also unbeaten with two non-bonus-point wins on eight points.
Next best are Ecolab Te Awamutu Sports on five points after their 53-5 home win over Seafood Bazaar Te Rapa on Saturday, but the rest of the field has yet to register a victory.
Otorohanga beat Melville away 39-21, picking up another seven tries to now have 21 for the season, led by winger Sekove Seriki with five after another two on Saturday.
Much improved conditions from opening day, when rain squalls and wind wreaked havoc at some venues, helped the dry-weather running rugby.
Old Boys again showed how dangerous their backs are from long range with a 54-14 home thumping of Nottingham Castle Morrinsville Sports in which they scored eight tries, while University got four tries in an exciting 30-19 win over APL Direct Hautapu in Hamilton which saw the visitors highly competitive for the second week running.
Marist scraped through for the second week in a row 19-15 away to cross-town rivals Shenanigans Fraser-Tech, making hard work of winning a scrappy match and having to come from behind despite holding an edge throughout.
Hamilton Old Boys...54
Old Boys initially showed they could score from both near their own line and the opposition's in the opening period at Fred Jones Park to rush out to 22-0 in 16 minutes.
Backs Jackson Gillett and Jordan Cameron, who along with fullback Kane Adams were dangerous on the breakout, and hooker Tyrone Te Ruruku got the early tries before Morrinsville Sports struck back in the 19th minute with a forward try to prop Tama Neha after a quick penalty tap.
Adams provided the cut-out pass to dangerous right winger Josh Tafa'aili to score Old Boys' bonus-point try in the 25th minute and later kicked the home side out to 30-7 before the visitors got their second try right on halftime to winger Hamish Clare after the injection of their most dangerous back Semisi Masirewa from fullback.
At 30-14 Old Boys went into halftime in control. They scored another four unanswered tries in the second spell after early on making hard work of multi-phase attacks and overlaps near the Morrinsville line for two of them to lock Tony Bennett and replacement hooker Levi Elliott. They then broke the game open from long range in the final quarter for tries to Cameron and halfback Kylem O'Donnell.
Melville certainly took it Otorohanga early on at Collins Rd, but the visitors stuck to their structure, absorbed the pressure and then turned defence into attack for a 22-7 halftime lead.
It was far from flawless from the competition leaders and they had lapses midway through the first half and just after halftime. Credit had to go to Melville for that, but Otorohanga know how to score tries and have the firepower to do so, finishing strongly.
They broke down the Melville defence with their fast-paced, quick recycling, quick tapping game. Seriki and fellow winger Ese Nabawala were always dangerous with ball in hand, while loose forward Murray Iti was strong in the tight and halfback Daniel Langlands the ideal link between backs and forwards.
When Melville were able to get their game going they showed glimpses of what they are capable of and both Jacob Ale, in his 50th game for the club, and big prop Johnny Tu'ungafasi scored excellent team tries.
Melville's other try, scored by winger Luke Masirewa, was a fine individual effort.
At one stage the hosts were in the game at 22-14 and attacking in the Otorohanga 22 only to knock the ball on.
University started strongly at Beetham Park, the whole team carrying the ball impressively, and threatened to run away with the match at 16-5.
But Hautapu scored right on halftime to make it 16-12 and when the home team scored early in the second spell to go to 23-12 again the visitors struck back to make it 23-19.
The turning point came when Hautapu were hammering the students' line, got penalised and University ended up scoring at the other end to bring up the final scoreline of 30-19.
No 8 Louis Rogers led some strong ball-carrying by Varsity early on until injured, but their player of the match was first-five Jason Robinson. Navi Sikivou was dangerous on the wing and teenager Te Raina Richards-Coxhead impressed in his senior debut at fullback.
Hooker Anton Milne and flanker Kane Jacobsen were the pick of the Hautapu team, while halfback Ruan du Plooy also played well, their team unlucky not to at least get a point out of the game.
Hamilton Marist managed to get up and beat Fraser Tech after a scappy game at Mill St, but neither side would be overly happy with the standard of play.
Both teams were guilty of careless, inaccurate passing and poor option taking throughout the game and the match was a stop-start affair with very little constructive play.
Fraser Tech had their chances, ahead 10-9 at halftime and outscoring Marist two tries to one, but the green-and-whites did enough in the second spell to take the win.
Fraser-Tech's first-half try was scored by openside flanker Brody Rennie, up in support to finish off a smart midfield break through the defence by wing John Collier.
First five-eighth Sam Christie added the conversion to an earlier successful penalty goal attempt, while Marist's first half points came from three penalty goals, which were kicked by No 10 Wharenui Hawera.
Tech applied pressure from the start of the second half with fullback Zoram Watene scoring in the second minute to increase the lead to 15-9, however, Marist soon replied when big prop Loni Uhila barged over in the eighth minute, Hawera's conversion giving Marist the lead for the first time in the match.
A fourth Hawera penalty midway through spell completed the scoring in the match.
Te Awamutu Sports…53
This was a one-sided affair at Albert Park despite an improvement by Te Rapa from the previous week, Te Awamutu Sports scoring nine tries to one.
The hosts also showed improvement from opening day, sticking to their structure better despite a few errors and leading 24-0 at halftime.
Openside flanker Matt Towers was Te Awamutu's standout player, winning a lot of ball at the breakdowns, outstanding in defence with some big hits and playing a fine all-round game, while big lock JP Leibenberg also had a big game at lineout time and carrying the ball.
Last year's impressive try-scoring fullback Hayden Ivil got back into that form with a hat-trick of tries, hitting the line well and running into some big defensive holes.
For Te Rapa the front row of Jamie Vette, Adam Fairley and Tia Ratu was solid, while try-scoring loosie Apitanga Taotala was their player of the match and Japanese winger Shota Takano also played well.