Marist 30 Wanderers 13
Marist are back on the horse and apparently now ready for the fight after a crucial pool B win at Brightwater in round two of the Bayleys Tasman Cup.
Saturday's 30-13 win over Taylor's Contracting Wanderers also sent some ominous signals to their remaining pool B opponents that, back to full strength, they are again looking likely contenders in this year's interprovincial club rugby series.
Wakatu Hotel Marist handed Wanderers just their second loss of the season, scoring four tries in the process, with No8 Joe Yalayala scoring one in each half and impressive flanker Gary Redmond and try-hungry fullback Latham Jones the others.
Wanderers lock Kurtis Bandy scored off a break by his flanker Loa Windley to reduce the margin to 22-13 17 minutes into the second half.
But Jones' late try, after also sparking the counterattack from deep inside his own half, finally ended Wanderers' stubborn resistance.
Redmond was an influential figure in the match, scoring a spectacular 60m try after snaffling loose ball and managing to stay clear of a desperate defence.
His work at the tackle was equally striking, although like all effective No7s, not without some remonstration from the opposition.
Centre Kieron Fonotia's powerful boot was also significant, often carving off huge chunks of territory with his lengthy touchfinders.
There were few surprises in a predictably willing forward contest, with Dan Perrin, Windley and Tyler Kearns prominent for Wanderers and Redmond, Francis Smith, Paa Thompson and Dan Squire the key elements in Marist's pack effort.
Huia 37 Stoke 33
New World Huia took advantage of Galbraith Group Nelson's bye to move to the top of pool A after holding off a late Accessman Stoke rally at Greenmeadows.
Huia appeared to have the game well under control after heading to the break with a commanding 32-10 lead, having scored four first-half tries.
Tighthead prop Brock Noble, wing Heing Fa'anoi, second five-eighth Mike Wells and wing Loti Nuie all capitalised on Huia's ball movement and impressive use of width to help secure the team's try-scoring bonus by halftime.
But the game changed dramatically in the second half, despite fullback Tema Faifua scoring Huia's only second half points to again apparently push them well clear at 37-19.
Flanker Stu Tunnicliff had scored Stoke's first half try, before further tries to fullback Brenton Connell and prop Ray Packer, complemented by midfielder Chad Lowrie's accurate goalkicking, saw the home team within a whiff of victory.
Huia held on, although their defence was tested by a Stoke forward pack that began to assume more dominance as the game wore on. Huia's earlier control dissipated as the likes of Tevita Koloamatangi, Steve Kerr, Packer, Tunnicliff and Jarrod Aberhart began to make a significant impact up front for Stoke.
Niue and Noble earned Huia's player-of-the-day awards.
Riwaka 20 Renwick 15
A try to winger Andy Beatson five minutes from time handed Enza Riwaka their second straight win in pool B as Renwick counted the cost of consecutive defeats.
Renwick's five-point losing margin was clearly a significant improvement on the previous week's heavy loss to Marist and they were even looking good for a share of the points at 15-all with time running out.
But then Beatson struck, scoring his second try of the match, to keep Riwaka well in the hunt for pool B honours.
Riwaka had led just 10-8 at halftime in a tight, even contest, although Renwick managed to edge ahead 15-10 shortly after the restart following a converted try to centre Jade Bevan.
No8 Dale Russ had scored Renwick's first-half try, with fullback Andy Robb adding to Riwaka's try tally ahead of Beatson's late match-winning incursion.
Lock Mangisi Kaho was central to Riwaka's forward effort, as Riwaka's scrum also provided them with a discernible set-phase advantage. Beatson's 15-point haul highlighted a fine individual performance by the young wing, while halfback Seta Sauira and midfielder Kevin Lynch also had strong games.
Russ gave Renwick momentum up the middle of the park with his strong ball carries and flanker Hayden Marfell produced a relentless effort.
Waitohi 16 WOB 15
Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys probably spent the trip home to Nelson last night wondering how on earth they did not beat Crafar Crouch Waitohi.
Two obvious answers – Waitohi fought like cornered wild boars to protect their line and when scoring opportunities presented themselves, they took them.
Waimea, for all their set-piece superiority and territorial dominance, were not smart enough, turning down a penalty-goal opportunity from close range and missing another sitter.
Waitohi are a close-knit side and that togetherness, plus the brilliance of their first-five Hawkins, proved decisive.
Hawkins was superb, his defence ferocious, his kicking game spot on. He broke the line on several occasions and his two second-half field goals were match-winners.
James Lowe shone out for the visitors, the strapping mid-fielder proving hard to contain and he scored the opening try five minutes into the match.
Hawkins put flanker Joe Va'atuitui over for a fine try but Waimea responded with a try to big lock Tevita Cavubati, who impressed with a fine all-round game.
Despite hammering away at Waitohi's line, Waimea were unable to produce the winning play in what was a very willing encounter.
Others to shine for Waitohi were hooker Kieran Gaudin in defence and James Giles at halfback. Waitohi's chances were not helped when they lost lock Daniel Karena with a rib injury early in the piece.
Harlequins 23 Awatere 22
Harlequins were very happy to take the points but, as their manager Don Barrett said afterwards, "Fifteen minutes of rugby won the game for us. The first 60 minutes we weren't flash."
Awatere looked in control, certainly for 50 minutes and scored three tries, all by their very good mid-field duo of Noah Waaka and Nick Pope, Waaka getting a double.
Awatere coach Chris Ryan lamented his team's inability to gain enough possession to close out the match in the second half and felt Harlequins dominated them both in possession and territory in the second spell.
Ryan said, "Our boys fought well, but it just wasn't our day."
Something certainly clicked for Harlequins in the last 15 minutes as the pressure finally told and they ran in three fine tries, rampaging prop Tim Perry getting one, halfback Daniel MacDonald and George Millar the others.
Prop Kurt Lindsay and lock Tom Loe shone for the Tussock Jumpers with George Davies and Waaka impressing in the backs.
For Harlequins, Barrett singled out hooker and captain Simon Muir and mid-fielder Darryl Murray as their best.
Moutere 15 Central 10
He scored a try in his 200th senior match for Central, but apart from that Onolevu Temo didn't have much to celebrate about after his team's poor performance against a resurgent Moutere.
The addition to the Moutere team of first-five Tom Halse made a huge difference. On the back of a good forward platform, he controlled the game well for the Magpies in a performance which delighted their coaches Andrew Large, Steve Black and Laurin Gane.
Fullback Chris Murphy was also outstanding and scored two fine tries. Blair Bavin might be the oldest player in Moutere's team but he played like a youngster, churning out a big work-rate. Lock Warrick de Waal and flanker James Pigou plus Stu Campbell all played their part in a Moutere team which looks vastly improved on the one that began the season so disappointingly.
Central coach Neville Saul was disappointed with his team and said they just couldn't hold onto the ball. "Our errors were major. Wrong decisions. Definitely not our best game. A poor performance."
Prop John Tiueti scrummaged well, Saul felt, while Matt Gibson and Reuben Harvey had their moments as did fullback Blair Skipper.
Moutere are in action again on their home patch at Awarua Park on Wednesday night against Waitohi in another clash in which points are at stake for both the Tasman Trophy and the Marlborough second round competition.