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Up until Saturday the four points awarded for a bye in the first round had been a ghost four points. But they were added to the team totals this weekend and that means Green Island and Harbour now share top billing.
Harbour recorded a surprisingly easy 37-7 win against Southern, while Green Island dispatched Zingari-Richmond 47-10.
Kaikorai beat Taieri 22-15 to consolidate its top-four spot, while Dunedin upset the form book with a 19-15 win over University.
Green Island 47 Zingari-Richmond 10
There was only one team in the contest at Montecillo when Green Island easily defended the Bert Hellyer Memorial Trophy.
Green Island started with plenty of power and pace and its scrum was in dominant form throughout the match.
It pushed the Zingari-Richmond scrum all over the paddock and Highlanders prop Sef Fa'agase was rugged.
The visiting side led 26-3 at the break and was always a step ahead of the Colours.
Big bruising No8 Dylan Nel was all power in the Green Island side and helped himself to two tries. He made metres whenever he had the ball and looked to take the ball off the home team when it had it. Fellow loose forward Brett Kingsbury was lively and picked up a well-deserved try at the end.
Lock Woody Kirkwood was lively in the lineouts, while the backs ran hard and fullback Isaak Te Hiwi looked good in everything he did.
It was the usual story from the home team. Do a couple of things right and then make a silly mistake that would put the pressure back on itself. A lack of coolness under pressure and sloppy mistakes are continuing to be the cause of a lot of woe up on the hill.
Best for the home side were prop Alex Nettleton and halfback Shaun Driver.
Harbour 37 Southern 7
This was expected to be a close contest, as both teams suffered just their first loss of the season last week.
But the home team at Watson Park was in command for most of the game and ran out a convincing winner. The Hawks pack paved the way and it was a combination of power, pace and possession that sealed the 37-7 victory.
The side mixed in some strong running forward play with real guile and speed in the backs as Southern was found wanting in defence.
Southern outside back Mackenzie Haugh picked up yet another try, this time from an intercept. It put his side just one point behind at 8-7 in the first half and it looked like it was going to be close.
But Harbour just tied up the ball and Southern had no answer. It was too passive in defence and Harbour just kept running. Aleki Morris was strong at centre and the home team notched some nice long-range tries.
The play of Logan Allen at first five-eighth really helped Harbour and he managed to keep his big forward pack going forward.
Impressive in the Harbour forward pack was big prop Saula Mau, while blindside flanker Jeff Ikani never took a backward step. Charles Elton was busy as usual and the side's set piece was solid.
Southern had a day to forget and failed to get much going with the ball while it slipped off too many tackles.
Lock Axel Hohneck tried hard but the Southern side was on its heels for long periods.
Kaikorai 22 Taieri 15
In a match that was tight throughout, Kaikorai scored tries when it mattered to finish ahead of Taieri at Bishopscourt. It led 10-3 at halftime and was never headed in the second half as it stayed ahead of Taieri.
The Kaikorai pack was physical and hit the breakdown hard. Highlander Jack Whetton was strong for the entire 80 minutes and had a follow-me attitude.
An even first half ended when Kaikorai decided to turn down an easy three points from a penalty and went for a try. It rolled the ball up to the tryline and flanker Slade McDowall scored the try.
McDowall had an impressive match and was in the game right throughout.
In the second half, Taieri just could not get enough possession to be dangerous and Kaikorai pulled away. A strong Kaikorai scrum led to an easy try to halfback Kane Johnston, who just had to fall on the ball to score.
Big prop Jonah Aoina worked hard for Kaikorai and got on top while lock Petelo Sinamoni also made some good metres with the ball in hand.
Ben Miller was his usual accurate self with the boot and kept his side going forward.
Taieri No8 and captain Brodie Hume worked hard and made one great break, which set up the final try for replacement halfback Nice Henderson.
But it was too little, too late for Taieri, which needs to start winning games to be a top-four candidate.
Josh Casey was lively on the counterattack as usual and read play well.
Dunedin 19 University 15
Tense, tight, enthralling. Everything rugby should be.
And an unlikely winner emerged at Logan Park as well.
Dunedin upset University 19-15.
Dunedin scored the opening try. It battered away at the line and finally got numbers out wide. But the home team battled back late in the spell and gave Dunedin some of its own medicine.
It ground away before the dam burst and midfielder Emeka Ilogu crashed over to give University a 10-5 lead at the break.
Varsity lost two key players in the first spell. Big lock Josh Hill went off with a knee injury and Highlander Dillon Hunt broke his nose.
Dunedin started the second spell with a roar. Highlanders backup halfback Folau Fakatava took a quick tap close to the line and showed amazing strength to get across.
He was quick, his clearance was lightning and his tackling was confrontational.
Dunedin, though, looked to have lost the game when it put the ball dead from a penalty. From the ensuing scrum fullback Taylor Haugh scorched 70m to score with time running out.
But Dunedin's pack went 40m and 20 phases before prop Teague McElroy burrowed over to give the Sharks an injury-time win.
Dunedin winger Oscar Schmidt-Uili was outstanding, while Jared Fahey was titanic in the midfield.
Props Sepa Vaka and McElroy and lock Mark Grieve-Dunn were gladiatorial all day.
University hooker Ricky Jackson and prop Angus Williams were into everything and openside Jack McHugh was an outstanding leader for them. Tyler Beary and Haugh were their best out wide.
- Games will start at the earlier time of 2pm this weekend due to the Highlanders-Jaguares game kicking off at 5.10pm.
- ODT rugby writers