The top four is starting to look more certain in Taranaki premier club rugby after they all picked up wins on Saturday.
Leaders New Plymouth Old Boys almost lost their unbeaten record but hung on to beat Inglewood 22-20 at Vogeltown Park.
Inglewood fullback Cody Hall had a chance to put them in front with two minutes left but his penalty kick was wide.
Unbeaten in 10 games, Old Boys looked in trouble when they were down to 14 men and behind 20-12 with 12 minutes remaining but they managed to score a late try and kick a penalty to stay 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Old Boys struggled to deal with the physical play Inglewood brought for long periods but did show enough composure to accumulate the points they needed.
The man most responsible for that was halfback David Ormrod who captained the side in the absence of Liam McBride. Not noted for his goal kicking, Ormrod stepped up and kicked a conversion and a late penalty.
Another player to stand out for Old Boys was Hayden Patene who operated from openside flanker.
Inglewood co-coach Cole Brown lamented their inability to close out the match.
The best Inglewood players were consistent hooker Harry Jones, centre Ben Leng and wing Junior Lati.
The feature match of the week saw Tukapa beat Stratford 36-5 in a scrappy game at Sanders Park.
Tukapa dominated possession in the first half with breeze behind their backs but managed to squander a host of chances through poor execution and option taking.
Too often they tried long passes that found the ground more than they found the man, although Stratford defended with plenty of aggression.
The visitors also tried to attack from most parts of the field but they were also guilty of not being able to execute with any accuracy.
Ahead only 8-0 at halftime, Tukapa needed to find improvement in the second half.
They did almost immediately as they scored within a couple of minutes of the restart before they crossed again a few minutes later.
That left Stratford chasing the game, something they failed to do, although it was not through a lack of trying.
Tukapa captain Mitchell Crosswell said they had a clear message at halftime around what they needed to improve.
“We were a bit laboured out of the blocks,” he said. “We turned over so much ball at the breakdown because we were far too high and they pigged into the that. We talked about it at halftime, just shoring up that ruck and if we did that we could play of it and that’s how it worked out and we scored a few tries.”
Southern had to come from 17-3 down at the break to beat Clifton 22-17 at Tikorangi.
Clifton had produced one of their best halves of rugby for the season but switched off in the second half, made too many errors and missed to many first-up tackles.
The win sees Southern stay in fourth place but they have now opened up a six-point lead over fifth-placed Inglewood.
There was also the pleasing sight for Southern of captain Jackson Ormond returning off the bench after a long tme out with concussion.
Clifton coach Brad Cooper was at a loss to understand how they could play so well in the first half and then back it up.
He said their best players were Chris Black, Matt White and Sione Lea.
Coastal, who sit second equal, produced another determined performance to beat Spotswood United 24-11 at Yarrow Stadium.
The match was close at halftime and continued to be for the majority of the second half with Coastal not able to draw away. They were not helped by having second five-eighth Johnny Fa’auli sent off for a high tackle that saw impressive prop Jared Proffit leave the field with a potentially serious injury.
Coastal coach Aaron Fisher was impressed with the work of lock Dylan Schuler, openside Dylan Jufferman and wing Thys van der Poel.
Spotswood United’s best players were Proffit and wing Manasa Mataele.
At a glance
Tukapa 36 Stratford 5
NPOB 22 Inglewood 20
Southern 22 Clifton 17
Coastal 24 Spotswood Utd 11