Karaka bounced back from an opening round loss to beat four-time defending McNamara Cup winners Bombay 31-20 in a stunning result up the hill.
After a hard-fought first half where neither side was able to dominate the scoreboard the visitors burst to life in the second spell to collect five tries including a double to Seluini Molia.
New coach Scott Penney knows his side has more in them but was stoked to record his first win as head coach.
“Very happy with the way we are building,” Penney said. “We did get off to quite a hard week with the Pukekohe game but there were a few learnings the boys took out of it.
“We had a really good week at training. We are still a way off where we want to be but we are taking really good steps toward that target.”
Penney insists the reigning champs have a lot of improvement in them and is adamant they will bounce back.
“We are still in patches. We sort of give ourselves six out of 10 on that. They are still missing a few players and I have little doubt Bombay will be there at the business end of the season,” he added.
Last season’s semifinalists Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel took hold of the Counties Power Cup with a resounding 28-14 win over week one winners Pukekohe at Colin Lawrie Fields in an impressive performance.
The visitors took a 19-9 lead into halftime and preserved that in a physical encounter, including a period where they were down to 13 men, in the second 40 minutes to record back-to-back wins to open the season.
Assistant coach Josh van Lieshout was delighted with his side’s performance.
“We put some good structure in place to come forward and tackle Pukekohe,” the former All Blacks sevens rep said. “I think everyone just went out there and did their right job. No-one was going above or doing anything else and the boys just played outstanding so it was good to see.
“It was probably just our accuracy. There was the odd mistake but when that mistake happened everyone got together and we just started back on that same track that we had at the start of the game.”
Van Lieshout thinks the positive start to the campaign will give the side a real boost.
“Beating Papakura was nice but I think this one reiterated to the boys that the hard work we are putting in does actually give you wins.
“We still have a heap of work to do, don’t get me wrong, but it does open our eyes up and everyone gets in behind each other a bit more.”
Onewhero continued their run of wins in the Gumboot Challenge as they beat Te Kauwhata EnviroWaste 43-10.
Former Kiwi league international Lesley Vainikolo’s side racked up seven tries in the process while Vaughan Holdt added 13 points himself.
Caleb Brown was named AS Wilcox Player of the Day.
After a narrow one-point loss last week to Bombay, Onewhero appears to be a team capable of playing semifinal football in 2018.
Manurewa Kidd Contracting remains at the top of the standings with a solid 39-21 win over Papakura at South Park.
Manurewa, who beat Ardmore Marist last week, scored seven tries to three in the victory.
Coach Jeremy Clark thought his side had to work harder than they did in their narrow win last week. While they scored some nice tries they barely held on as Ardmore Marist came storming home but yesterday’s win was the polar opposite of that.
“I thought it was a tough, gutsy win,” Clark said. “I thought Papakura had some big ball carriers so trying to nullify their threats was the biggest thing on our checklist before this match and they didn’t disappoint.
“They were hard to stop and contain and I thought we stayed in the fight a long time and came home well in the back end, which is a promising thing because we wanted to improve on that 60-minute mark from last week.”
Manurewa face a stern test against old foes Pukekohe next week.
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors picked up their first win of the season in thrashing Waiuku Brian James Contracting 48-5 at Bruce Pulman Park.
But while the result looks extremely impressive on paper, new coach Doug Sanft said it doesn’t tell the full story.
“Not really – Waiuku were missing some of their key players I think,” Sanft said.
“I am happy to get back on track – that one point loss last week I took really hard because you don’t want to start the year like that.”
After a poor first 40 minutes against Manurewa, Ardmore Marist has bounced back and looks to be a title contender again this season.
“This week, before the game, we kind of hit the panic button but you don’t win championships in the first game. The guys were a bit rusty in the first week but we got through this week ok.”
Josh Grey scored again to lead the AS Wilcox Leaderboard alongside Manurewa’s Pisi Leilua with three.
In Bob Chandler Memorial Premier 2 action Karaka sent a serious warning to the competition in smashing Bombay 75-7. Pukekohe reversed the result of their premier side in beating Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical 20-6 at Colin Lawrie Fields while Te Kauwhata produced a superb performance to hammer Onewhero 50-12 in an encouraging sign for the club.
Other winners were Ardmore Marist Ross Roof Group and Manurewa Wise Property Management.