KAWERAU held their grip on the Bay of Plenty football first division with victory in an Eastern Bay derby match on Saturday.
They were too strong for neighbouring club Plains Rangers, winning 3-0 at Awakeri School.
Kawerau captain Teimana Awhimate said they were short on players, but was happy they to see his side win.
Three Trident High School players made the trip back from a game in Katikati to play for Kawerau, taking the field for the final 20 minutes.
It was always going to be a tough challenge for Rangers, with Kawerau on a six-game unbeaten streak heading into Saturday’s game.
Kawerau had also scored 40 goals in that time. But the game started evenly with soft conditions underfoot.
There were plenty of good attacks from both sides with Rangers’ player of the day Carl Imlig linking up well with Samuel Christieson and Ben McPherson, making his return to the team.
Kawerau’s strong work through the centre kept the Rangers’ defence on their toes and keeper Christian Wetting was kept busy.
Late in the half Kawerau were starting to gain some control of the possession and, after 35 minutes, they opened the scoring.
Kawerau were then awarded a free kick after Wetting was judged to have carried the ball outside the box and referee Neil McCready awarded a free kick.
The ball was quickly squared across the goal for a tap in, catching the Rangers’ defence napping. It gave the visitors a 2-0 lead going into the break.
In the second half, Kawerau maintained their grip on proceedings, Hamiora Awhimate instrumental with his strong showing in the midfield.
Rangers still played the ball around well, but had less chances. With 15 minutes left, a Kawerau attack was ended by a push in the box. The resulting penalty was dispatched to wrap up the victory.
This Saturday Rangers men are in a Bay Sports Centre Bowl quarter-final, away to Rotorua United, a team they lost 4-3 to in the league.
Whakatane stayed in fifth place on the competition ladder in spite of a 4-1 loss to Katikati. They will play Taupo, also an away fixture, in another quarter-final.
Whakatane’s second team are in fifth place on the second division table after they walloped Te Puke 9-0.