With only three round robin games left, there is little separating the top four teams in this year’s Citizens Shield competition.
But fifth-placed Athletic Marist has an outside chance of sneaking in to the playoffs, after recording its first win in two years on Saturday.
Beating Excelsior 31-15 at Whitestone Contracting Stadium was a big monkey to get off the back of the club, which endured a winless 2019.
Athletic Marist coach Wayne Kinzett said he was “really proud” of his side’s strong finish in the hard-fought encounter.
“It’s only one win, and you can’t get too carried away, but I was really pleased for the boys,” Kinzett said.
“The feeling in the clubrooms was really nice and positive.”
Kinzett praised Josh Thomas, Tane Tuiono and Mason Kinzett, who had stuck with the club over the past few seasons, despite its struggles.
“For them, it’s massive, and they are all pretty proud of the whole thing,” he said.
The team was focused on achieving its goal of reaching the semifinals.
“We have said that we have a young team, but sooner or later you have to front up and have a win OK to come second.
“It’s just about taking an extra step each week.”
In Kurow, the home side continued its trend of close results on Saturday, losing 30-25 to Maheno.
The visitors began well and jumped out to a 17-5 lead at the break. Through double scores from Sione Kaufusi and Dean Fenwick, Kurow fought back and twice got within one point of Maheno.
But last year’s champion held on to remain the only unbeaten side in the competition.
In Weston, Old Boys secured a 36-24 win over Valley.
Renowned for a fast and loose style, Old Boys played with structure and shape to jump out to a 28-0 lead.
Valley fought back in the second half to secure four-try bonus point, which could prove crucial when it comes to the final standings.
Valley hosts Athletic Marist at Weston and will be keen to bounce back from its loss to Old Boys.
There are two games at Whitestone Contracting Stadium – the top-of-the-table clash between Maheno and Old Boys will be played on the main field, while Kurow comes up against Excelsior on the back field.
Round 4 results
Maheno 30 (Llew Johnson 2, Harry Semple 2 tries; Robbie Smith 2 pen, 2 con) Kurow 25 (Dean Fenwick 2, Sione Kaufusi 2 tries, Sam MacDonald 1 con, 1 pen)
Old Boys 36 (Toni Taufa, Mataitini Feke, Talafi Telefoni, Inoke Naufahu 2 tries; Naufahu 4 con, pen) Valley 24 (Jake Greenslade, Glen Sturgess, Ben Paton 2 tries; Sturgess con, Brad McKenzie con)
Athletic Marist 31 (Paea Fifita, Will Knight, Izaac Loper, Jared Whitburn 2 tries; Mason Kinzett 3 con) Excelsior 15 (Tayne Russell, Josh Phipps tries; Phipps con, Tarn Crow pen)