The Mount Albert Lions made it three wins in a row – and sit atop the points table alongside Point Chevalier – after working their way to a 24-12 win over Papakura in the third round of Auckland’s Fox Memorial premiership.
The Lions were down 6-10 at halftime but some muscling up in the middle and control of the ruck locked in their success over the defending champion at Prince Edward Park on Saturday.
Mount Albert shares the lead on the points table on six points but the Pirates are ahead on differential.
With only one win so far in the competition, Papakura sits sixth on the ladder following Howick, Glenora and Richmond who are on four points and sit inside the competition’s top five.
Mount Albert captain Marcus Fraser says fitness is key when going up against bigger packs.
"It doesn't get any easier," he said.
"The last few years we've had bigger sides but our fitness hasn't always been up there. We're looking at trying to play the full 80 minutes.
"We're not the biggest pack around, but we can be the fittest… I think that's what got us over in the end."
Papakura Sea Eagles captain Willie Stowers says urgency is what let them down.
"Even though we got the early lead, we didn't show any urgency," said Stowers.
"We needed to be winning the ruck, but we didn't.
"If we're going to play half-hearted at Fox level then we're going to get beat. We have to start showing some urgency and we have to grind it out."
Point Chevalier continued its perfect start to the season taking care of Mangere East with a 60-40 win away at Walter Massey Park while Marist won its first game of the season with an 18-10 win over Richmond.
In other games, Howick managed to get a two-point lead to secure a 20-18 win over Glenora at fulltime.
Another highly-anticipated match between Northcote and Te Atatu ended with a 16-all draw.
East Coast Bays broke the Bay Roskill Vikings’ winning streak in round five of the Crown Lift Trucks Sharman Cup with a close 34-32 win at Freyberg Park on Saturday.
Hibiscus Coast bounced back from its 4-62 loss to New Lynn last week with a big 52-6 over Pakuranga while Otahuhu took care of New Lynn 40-16.
Otahuhu and Bay Roskill sit on eight points to lead the table in section 1 of the qualification series.
High-flyer Ponsonby is the only side to remain unbeaten in the competition, leading section two of the qualification series with 10 points.
SAS FOX MEMORIAL
Round 3: Richmond 10, Marist 18; Glenora 18, Howick 20; Te Atatu 16, Northcote 16; Papakura 12, Mt Albert 24; Mangere East 40, Pt Chevalier 60.
CROWN LIFT TRUCKS SHARMAN CUP
Round 5 | Qualification series (section 1): Otahuhu 40, New Lynn 16; East Coast Bays 34, Bay Roskill 32; Hibiscus Coast 52, Pakuranga 6. Bye: Otara. Qualification series (section 2): Papatoetoe 36, Manukau 4; Waitemata 22, Manurewa 24; Ponsonby 42, Ellerslie 18.