A pair of major upsets marked the opening round of the Tasman Trophy as defending champions Marist were held to a draw by Kahurangi while Wanderers hammered Nelson 37-14.
Ill-discipline would plague Nelson who were at one stage down to 13 men, while Wanderers’ blockbusting young mid-field duo of Tone Vaka and El Nino Peniamina wreaked havoc on the hosts defence.
Skipper Fletcher Smith says it was the perfect way to start the season.
“We had a off-season season with a solid group of boys, we have been working hard on our fitness. We are never going to be the biggest team in the comp but we pride ourselves on our fitness, I think that showed today.”
Smith says the blistering performances of his young centres was not unexpected.
“They are pretty dynamic, we just said to them at the start of the game to express themselves and if they want to have a crack, go for it, they set us a really good foundation.”
In what was former All Black Kane Hames’ first premier refereeing assignment, Wanderers first five Justin Barr opened the scoring before Nelson winger Rico Joass pounced on a loose pass and weaved his way to the line for the opening try.
Wanderers didn’t take long to reply as Peniamina got over for his first on the back of a strong break from his halfback.
The boys from Brightwater struck again just before halftime through a stunning solo effort from Peniamina, breaking the line and skinning the cover defence to give his side a 15-7 halftime advantage.
Wanderers’ midfield continued to cause carnage in the second half, this time it was Vaka scoring from a pinpoint cross kick from Barr.
Penalties began to mount against Nelson and Barr added another three to the total. Eventually Hames sent skipper Isaac Salmon to the bin and they lost another shortly after due to a high shot.
Wanderers took immediate advantage as Matthews effectively sealed the result when he latched on to a superb offload from Peniamina to stretch it to 30-7.
They would heaped more misery on the depleted hosts when Levi McPherson went in to blow the scoreboard out.
Nelson did score a late consolation through Sosefa Vaka but the result was well and truly assured.
Elsewhere, Marist trailed Kahurangi 13-10 at halftime in Motueka before being held to a 32-all draw in a major upset to open the season.
Waimea accounted for Stoke in the curtain-raiser, 55-20. Scorers: Wanderers 37 (Peniamina 2, Smith, Vaka, McPherson tries, Barr 2 pens 3 cons) Nelson 12 (Joass, Vaka tries, Soper 1 cons) Results: Marist 32 drew with Kahurangi 32 Waimea 55 def Stoke 20 Renwick 40 def Waitohi 22 Central 57 def Moutere 27