Just like that, the first round is over.
Hands up everyone who predicted Old Boys would be at the top of the table with a maximum 25 points from five games.
And leave those hands up if you just knew Kurow would be the closest challenger, and that Valley – a worthy finalist last year – would have just one win, and that Excelsior would have one hand on the wooden spoon.
Game of the round was the Friday-night clash at Maheno as two very good country clubs, both seeking the moderate honour of second place after the first round, went at it.
Kurow held the whip hand at 19-9 going into the final quarter, but those talented Smith brothers each scored tries to give Maheno a 23-19 lead.
That might have been a fitting result on the night Maheno officially launched its new lights, but Kurow had other ideas.
With time all but up, freakish try-scorer Petelo Pouhila (see below) crashed over the line to give Kurow a 24-23 win.
At Weston, unpredictable Athletic Marist got out of bed on the right side to find its best form in a 38-19 win over Valley.
There are some genuinely classy players in this Athletic side, and its new-found defensive steel was also a major factor in gaining the club a handy win in the very early race to the semifinals.
Old Boys, as expected, romped to a big win over Excelsior in town, scoring 11 tries to two.
I have not yet had a chance to see these Maheno lights in action.
Are they any good? Putting aside the feelgood factor, are they suitable for regular night rugby?
Let’s check in with two key players who tossed the pill around under the Friday night lights last week.
Craig Smith (Maheno):“They’re great. For night games in previous years, it has taken a while for the eyes to adjust, but these are fairly powerful. With a young family and wife involved in netball on Saturdays, I am all for Friday night games and so is she.”
Ben Nowell (Kurow): “They were great to play under. They are well and truly powerful enough. No different to playing during the day in terms of vision.”
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
A big, mobile Tongan prop who just can’t stop scoring tries.
Yes, Petelo Pouhila could be the second coming of Hotili Asi.
Pouhila, perhaps the most exciting player in the Citizens Shield, took his tally to a ludicrous 10 tries from five games with another brace against Maheno.
Fellow props Forbes Meehan (Kurow) and Peter Armstrong (Maheno), the young giant just filling in while on university break, also stood out under the lights.
Inoke Naufahu continued his sizzling for Old Boys, while lock Anthony Amato sealed his status as newcomer of the season with a hat trick.
The other newby making a big impression is Athies midfield back Taina Tamou, while the talismanic Jared Whitburn just keeps rolling along in top form.
“We did some good things. But we’re just not consistent enough yet, and we’re missing too many first-up tackles.” – Mike Mavor (Valley)
Union does not have its nice new jerseys yet but it celebrated its breakthrough win in the grade with a 69-7 thumping of Athletic Marist.
Ben Rapson scored 18 points, and both Izaak Tauwhare and Brendan Montaperto grabbed a brace of tries.
Unbeaten Kurow pipped Excelsior 29-12 in the other game.
Old Boys should be too strong for Valley at the stadium, and you would expect Kurow to run away from Excelsior on the back ground.
Maheno hosting Athletic Marist, though . . . hmm. You’d give Maheno a 10-point start but who knows which Athies team will turn up?
Round 5 scores
Athletic Marist 38 (Simon Lilicama 2, Taina Tamou 2, Ross Lewis tries; Mason Kinzett 5 con, pen), Valley 19 (Dan Lewis 2, Cameron Rowland tries; Lewis 2 con). Halftime: Athletic Marist 28-14.
Old Boys 75 (Anthony Amato 3, Brandan Mangold 2, Taani Vaitohi 2, Harry Frost, Omega Masoe, Timoci Bulitavu, Lemi Masoe tries; Inoke Naufahu 10 con), Excelsior 12(Jack Williams, Uhila Malafu tries; Kayne Middleton con). Halftime: Old Boys 42-5.
Kurow 24 (Petelo Pouhila 2, Dean Fenwick, Jason Angland tries; Ben Nowell 2 con), Maheno 23 (Robbie Smith, Craig Smith tries; Craig Smith 2 con, 3 pen). Halftime: Kurow 12-3.
Athletic Marist v Valley
2 – Jared Whitburn (AM)
1 – Taina Tamou (AM)
1 – William Sunderland (AM)
1 – Cedric Laurent (V)
1 – Sam Sturgess (V)
Old Boys v Excelsior
2 – Inoke Naufahu (OB)
1 – Filipo Veamatahau (OB)
1 – Anthony Amato (OB)
1 – Kelepi Funaki (OB)
1 – Kwaye Raumati (E)
Kurow v Maheno
1 – Petelo Pouhila (K)
1 – Forbes Meehan (K)
1 – Jason Angland (K)
1 – Jesse Porter (K)
1 – Peter Armstrong (M)
1 – Craig Smith (M)