MSP crammed a season's worth of mistakes into 80 minutes but still managed to bag a 20-13 win over Tawa on 7 July (see video highlights below).
On a calm, sunny day with Evans Bay Park in reasonable shape, the conditions were tailor made for an open game but instead a tough, physical forward battle ensued, with the dominant MSP scrum giving the home side a critical edge.
However, it was from a scrum penalty after 12 minutes that Tawa were first to put points on the board. No 6 Sean Bridge was making some excellent breaks, but forward passes and dropped balls plagued MSP all afternoon and the team was unable to capitalise.
A fine Ryan Setefano break after 34 minutes saw Isaia Petelo slip when he was likely to score but, with a penalty advantage signalled, Fa'atonu Fili snapped a dropped goal to level it up 3-3.
Headed by Arden David and Kas Lealamanua, the MSP scrum was barrelling its opposite but both props were substituted at halftime. Any thoughts the Tawa forwards might have had of a reprieve were soon quashed when two Junior World Cup-winning props ran out for the second half - Hurricane Jeff Toomaga-Allen and, after a long injury lay off, Solomona Sakalia.
Tawa were first to score with a penalty but MSP equalised after eight minutes. The breakthrough finally came when Bernie Upton broke from a ruck and fed second-five Isaia Petelo on the burst. His pass found Ryan Setefano who weaved his way to the line for a good try, which Fa'atonu converted.
All the good work was undone minutes later when Tawa dashed 50 minutes from a scrum free-kick to score a converted try and tie it up 13-13. Despite dropped balls, missed touches and a penalty attempt hitting the post, it was an intense battle and MSP finally ended up with a scrum five metres from the Tawa line with just minutes to play. A series of forward drives saw Tongan international lock Lua Lokotui driven over, Fa'atonu's conversion making the game safe.
Despite the errors, the team secured four competition points to maintain their second place on the Jubilee Cup table with three games remaining.