Two relative hidings and one tense battle – this is all very familiar.
For a second straight week, two unbeaten teams clashed. And for a second straight week, the result was beyond doubt at halftime.
Old Boys sent another reasonably strong message when they pummelled Maheno 56-12 under the Friday night lights.
The theory is Old Boys – playing that beautiful “freestyle” rugby – prefer the sun on their backs, but they showed they can light it up on a cold night in Maheno.
Kurow bounced back from its own defeat to Old Boys with a sparkling 60-21 win over Athletic Marist on the main ground.
Scoring nine tries to three, Kurow played with both structure and verve, and that would have been a nice re-injection of confidence.
Athletic Marist was not disgraced, and there are the beginnings of a reasonable team there.
Over the back of the park, Valley had to come from behind to grab its first win of the season, pipping winless Excelsior 27-23.
Both sides have a long way to go, and will probably have to be content with small steps each week, hoping to stay in touch with the top teams.
Just like that, we have a clear top-half, bottom-half look to the Citizens Shield, seven points separating third from fourth.
Will Old Boys go 15-0?
No, it’s not too early to be asking that question.
The defending champions are off to their usual hot start, and have effortlessly seen off the two teams, Kurow and Maheno, widely seen as their closest challengers this season.
Rockstars like Filipo Veamatahau and Inoke Naufahu are surrounded by any number of skilled, strong, physical athletes, and they are so hard to stop.
At their best, Old Boys are a joy to watch – everything that is great about Pasifika rugby.
Naturally, success breeds envy. Other clubs are dying to emulate Maheno two years ago and slay the giant, but that is going to take something special.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Rangy lock Harvard Fale showed off all his skills for Kurow, while No 8 Cory Hollister provided some bruising physicality.
In the backs, Ben Nowell was at his classy best, showing his rugby brain and attacking edge have not been blunted by a year away from rugby.
A lock also shone on Friday night, Anthony Amato continuing to make a big impression for Old Boys in this competition.
Jamie Rhodes (Excelsior) and Logan Dunlop (Valley) provided plenty of vigour and punch.
“That was good. We just controlled the ball. When you’ve got the ball, and your lineout and scrum go well, and you do the basics, you wear teams down and tries come. The Old Boys game was a good gauge of where we needed to improve, and we were better in those facets today.” – Nick Anderson (Kurow)
Great to see two games played, and what appeared to be decent numbers across the four clubs.
Kurow is extremely strong in this grade and scored 13 tries in an 81-0 walloping of Athletic Marist.
Excelsior beat Union 29-21 in a good tussle at Blues.
There should be a barnstormer tonight when Maheno hosts Kurow. The match doubles as the official opening of the Maheno lights and the unofficial heavyweight battle for second.
Valley and Athletic Marist should be well matched at Weston, but you would imagine Old Boys v Excelsior in town will be one-way traffic.