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Taieri slipped to fifth spot following its 37-11 loss to University, which consolidated its spot on top of the standings.
Harbour climbed into second place with a convincing 28-8 win against the giant-killing Green Island, while Alhambra-Union dispatched Zingari-Richmond, 47-15.
University can tick the box labelled ruthless.
The competition leaders pounced on three mistakes by Taieri in the last quarter of the game to win 37-11 and retain the Challenge Shield at the University of Otago Oval.
The final margin suggests a dominant display by the home side. But the game was in the balance with 20 minutes to play.
The Eels had run the ball from everywhere and were building again. But someone in the University pack won a crucial turnover and Gavin Stark took off.
He was caught but flicked off a brilliant pass behind the back of his tackler to left winger Tyler Beary, who ran in from 40m to score what proved to be a game-changer.
Taieri was suddenly trailing 23-11 and looked increasingly desperate.
Marc Rooney made a howler of a mistake. The left winger ran back to field a nothing kick but took too long to clear it.
Meanwhile, University fullback Taylor Haugh had chased hard and charged down the belated clearance.
The ball popped up nicely for him and he ran in from 20m to dot down under the posts.
There was further calamity when Nick Henderson, who had a good game on the blindside, fired off a speculative pass which was intercepted by impressive second five-eighth Emeka Ilogu.
Three mistakes — 21 points.The rest of the match was evenly contested. Taieri’s Matt Whaanga was a threatening presence in the midfield and openside Josh Brown scored a first half try and had a busy game.
His opposite, Jack McHugh, enhanced his reputation with another tigerish performance in the loose, and Mike Williams drilled all four conversions and landed three penalties in a tight display of goal-kicking.
Green Island 8
The Hawks are circling.
After a lacklustre start to the season, Harbour is building some momentum and has moved into second place in the standings following a convincing 28-8 win against Green Island at Watson Park.
Harbour produced another clinical opening 40 minutes of rugby to lead Green Island 21-3 at the break. Its powerful tight five wrested control of the game from a Green Island team missing some of the main protagonists from the 42-10 upset over University last weekend.
Lock Joketani Koroi is a powerhouse in the middle row for the Hawks and he was impressive at lineout time.
Front-rower Aiden Spence, playing his 50th game for the senior side, made a solid contribution.Hard-running No 8 Solomon Pole scored just before the break from a pushover scrum, while Logan Allen ran play brilliantly from first five-eighth. He got a lot of front foot ball and Harbour’s backs were able to run on to the ball a lot faster than Green Island, which had to make the most of some static ball.
The visitors arguably had the better of the second spell but could not find a way through Harbour’s defence. Green Island hooker Jake-Lane Fowler put in a solid shift for his side.
Alhambra-Union ran in seven tries to beat Zingari-Richmond 47-15 in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
The match will not go down as one of the great spectacles. There was a lot of clumsy handling and sloppy play at Montecillo.
Zingari-Richmond defended well in patches but the team has been struggling in the second half of the season, stringing together some heavy losses.
Still, it kept its opponent to under 50 points which is the first time it has managed that since round 8 when it lost to Green Island 28-6 at Miller Park.
The Colours have not won since recording a 25-15 win against Harbour in their opening game of the season.
Alhambra-Union has made a habit out of losing close games in the last few seasons — it could have registered another three wins this year had it been better in the closing moments. But it was too good for Zingari-Richmond. It also unveiled a new player, in England under-18 representative JJ Tonks, making his debut for the club. He arrived in the country on Tuesday and looks to be a loose forward with potential.
Brad Morgan had a good game in the midfield for Alhambra, while fullback John Tapeluluheu scored twice.
Ben Tuiomanufili was dynamic in the loose, while Thomas Johnson was probably the best of Zingari-Richmond players.
He did his best to hold the team together at centre rather than his usual slot at first five-eighth. Veteran No 8 Chris Bell had a solid game for the Colours as well.
Kaikorai won a tight encounter at Bathgate Park, getting home 20-19 after it led 20-5 at the break.
Southern had a chance to win the game with the last kick of the match but the penalty attempt from Mackenzie Haugh flew to the left.
It had been awarded against Kaikorai halfback Kane Johnston, who was red-carded after referee Caleb Neilson ruled he threw a punch.The penalty was about 35m out and handy enough but Haugh could not find the posts.
Southern had started well and scored through winger Jono Hayes after just a couple of minutes. But Kaikorai took over and dominated the rest of the first half.
A nice chip and chase led to a try to winger Jordan McEntee swiftly followed by a try to hooker Sam Wyber. Winger Corey Miller scored right on halftime to give Kaikorai a comfortable lead at the break.
Southern got more ball in the second half and Haugh showed his speed to score early on in the second half. Southern poured on the pressure but the visiting side stood strong.
The defence broke eventually though and Southern halfback Wilson Driver scored with a couple of minutes left.
Best for Southern was hooker Sam Pene and captain and No 8 Kyle Harris, while Haugh was lively at fullback.
The Kaikorai tight five was abrasive and No 8 Patrick McCurran got through plenty of work.
Ben Miller showed some nice touches while TJ Ane was lively in the Kaikorai midfield.
University 37 (Tyler Beary, Gavin Stark, Taylor Haugh, Emeka Beary tries; Mike Williams 4 con, 3 pen), Taieri 11 (Josh Brown try; Brodie Flannery 2 pen). Halftime: Taieri 8-7.
Kaikorai 20 (Jordan McEntee, Sam Wyber, Corey Miller tries; Ben Miller con, pen), Southern 19 (Wilson Driver, Jono Hayes, Mackenzie Haugh tries; Haugh 2 con). Halftime: 20-5.
Harbour 28 (Sione Misiloi, Naulia Dawai, Solomon Pole, Logan Allen tries; Allen 4 con), Green Island 8 (Sunia Makasina try; Alex Barnsley pen). Halftime: 21-3.
Alhambra-Union 47 (John Tapeluluheu 2, Alex Frood, Tom Frood, Brad Morgan, Brady Kingan, Ray Une tries; Kingan 6 con), Zingari-Richmond 15 (Eli Tonga, Jesse Muir tries; Thomas Johnson con, pen). Halftime: 19-3.