Taniwharau now only unbeaten side in Waikato club rugby league, after defeating Ngaruawahia Panthers

Taniwharau are now the only unbeaten team left in the Waikato club rugby league competition, after defeating the Ngaruawahia Panthers on Saturday.

Taniwharau are now the only unbeaten side after four rounds of the Waikato club rugby league competition, having taken down the Ngaruawahia Panthers in a top of the table clash in Huntly on Saturday.


In what was expected to be Taniwharau's toughest hitout of the season to date - having posted scores of 52, 52 and 78 in their first three matches - they were certainly made to work hard by a Panthers side at a wet Davies Park, though were good enough to come up trumps 20-6.


With conditions playing a pivotal part, it was a game that was an arm-wrestle up the middle of the park, with just one try in the first half. And it was a cracker, coming after just three minutes, via winger Teina Ngahiwi, who latched onto a grubber from skilled big man Pawhare Brown.


The home side were almost able to double their lead in the 10th minute, but winger Te Ranginui Taoho was said to have gone touch-in-goal, and from then it was the Panthers who dominated field position, however a lack of organisation with their attacking raids seemed to let them down.


The visitors had their best chance of first-half points when second rower Craig Wiggins - their best on park, alongside busy hooker Matenga Wilson - charged down a kick, however he was beaten in the race to the line, with Taniwharau fullback Damien Darlington pushing the ball dead.


With the contest still well and truly anyone's in the second half, Taniwharau, like in the first stanza, were again able to strike early, when Brown burst up the middle in the 43rd minute and then went on a 20-metre angled run to the line.


The hosts maintained their 8-0 lead until the 64th minute, when came the decisive play of the match, with Mahinga Rangi breaking from dummy half and sending the ball to interchange five-eighth Duane Sykes, who put in a perfect chip kick for centre Waka Tai Rakena to score. Sykes then nailed the sideline conversion to put the lead beyond two converted tries.


In need of a quick hit-back, the Panthers did in fact get one, with centre Sammy Matangi capitalising on a first-tackle turnover from Taniwharau, and the visitors were still in it at 14-6.


However, with five minutes left interchange prop Russell Leef completed a solid game with a barge-over try next to the posts to seal the result.


Taniwharau had several players shine in the gutsy win, with halfback Koroheke Moana-Taniwha leading them well round the park, prop Dana Ratu defensively tough and second rower Codie Christensen solid in a debut appearance.


Meanwhile, there were also wins for the Hamilton City Tigers and the Coast Steelers at the weekend, with the Tigers downing Hukanui 44-6 at Resthills Park, while the Steelers kept College Old Boys winless with a 54-12 victory at Taharoa.


AT A GLANCE


Waikato club competition, Rd 4

Taniwharau 20 Ngaruawahia Panthers 6

Coast Steelers 54 College Old Boys 12

Hamilton City Tigers 44 Hukanui 6


Points: Taniwharau 12, Panthers 10, Tigers 7, Steelers 7, Hukanui 6, Turangawaewae 3, College Old Boys 3.

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