New Plymouth Old Boys and Coastal remain the only unbeaten teams in Taranaki premier club rugby after just two weeks of action.
Competition leaders Old Boys brought Stratford back down to earth after they opened the season with a rare win. Playing at home, Stratford were thumped 55-7 as Old Boys ran in nine tries in a clinical display.
James Loto, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Liam McBride all scored a brace of tries as Old Boys dominated possession from the outset.
Stratford coach Shane McDonald put a stopwatch on from the kick-off and had to wait eight minutes before his side managed to actually get hold of the ball.
Unfortunately for Stratford they could do little with it, unlike their opposition who spread it at will as they found defenders unable to shut them down at key times.
Old Boys captain Liam McBride was at the heart of most of the action as he dictated play, while New Zealand Under-20 halfback Tahuriorangi was superb in some of the aspects of his play. That included a great solo try after he was moved to fullback late in the match.
There were also good performances from lock Fin Hoeata, wing Jackson Carrington and centre Sean Wainui who got through a half of rugby as he continues his comeback from injury.
While the bonus-point win keeps Old Boys a point ahead of second-placed Coastal, the victory came at a cost with loose forwards Lachlan Boshier and Hayden Patene both suffering leg injuries.
McDonald struggled to find many positives but thought openside flanker Ricky Pepper and fullback Morehu Connor-Phillips played well.
The JD Hickman feature match between Tukapa and Clifton was marred by an ugly brawl 30 minutes into the first half.
The ferocity of the violence has rarely been seen in premier club rugby in recent seasons as the fight threatened to spill onto Gladstone Rd, such were the numbers of players involved.
When referee Will Johnston finally managed to take control he deliberated with assistant referee Darryl Fale who indicated that Tukapa captain Leighton Price had repeatedly retaliated to some foul play from a Clifton player and he was red-carded.
It is the second time in two seasons the Taranaki lock has been sent from the field an he could be in for a long suspension.
What was most surprising was that Price was the only player to be shown a card as it appeared a number of players entered the fray, some from quite some distance. Video footage of the incident could result in a number of players being cited if the Taranaki Rugby Football Union is serious about stamping out similar behaviour.
Price’s expulsion came at a time when Tukapa had been dominating as they took a 12-0 lead through the boot of Eli Kneepkens who played at first five-eighth in the absence of Jack Cameron.
Clifton were upset by the incident and unquestionably played better afterwards as their forwards, especially, worked hard for possession.
Overall, though, it was a match full of poor option-taking, with players more intent on running into each other than trying to create space.”There was some improvement [from last week] and there were a lot of good patches in it,” Clifton coach Ian Snook said.
“I think we were starting to play better in the 10 minutes before that [fight] because in the first 20 minutes we looked pretty nervous and we weren’t playing with any confidence. We probably made hard work of playing against 14 guys in the second half.” Defending champions Ingle dh wood bounced back from being thumped by Tukapa in the opening week with a 25-20 win over Southern at the TET Stadium.
Inglewood were out to an 18-3 lead at one stage before Southern fought back.
Japanese import Yusuke Hamazato was player of the day at blindside flanker, while Cole Brown at second five-eighth also had a strong game.
Southern coach Jason Skipper was deflated after losing by the same margin two weeks on end.
Although several players stepped up, he said he needed more of his team to fire if they were to win.
Blindside flanker Hayden Caskey was their man of the match, and first five-eighth Daniel Brooks again played well.
Coastal were a bit disjointed but still managed to beat Spotswood United rather easily.
Fullback David Walker was excellent at fullback, while Blake Barrett had a good match on the side of the scrum and halfback Brett Goodin was heavily involved.
Spotswood United were guilty of switching off too often at times. Their best players were flanker Toa Halafihi and wing David Philander.
– Taranaki Daily News