Gladstone won but Pioneer did enough to spoil any party.
Needing a bonus point to finish top of the table and win the round one Moose Kapene Cup, Gladstone could manage only two tries in their 14-7 victory over Pioneer.
Instead, the silverware remains with Greytown who ran in four tries against bottom of the table East Coast winning 24-6.
With two Andrew McLean tries, either side of the half-time break, Gladdy were in control with 30-minutes still to play.
But Pioneer muscled up applying all of the pressure and were deserving of coming away with at least a draw. That they didn’t was testament to desperate defence from the home team.
It was a frosty encounter, in part due to the polar blast that whipped up over night, and also the fact that Gladstone looked to assert themselves from the opening whistle.
They dominated possession and territory in the first forty, but it wasn’t until the final act of the half could they could convert it into points. And when they did it looked so easy as lock Andrew McLean won the line-out throw and waltzed over the try line.
Keeping Pioneer camped deep inside their own territory after the break, Gladstone’s second try had a sense of inevitability about it as McLean hit the line at speed crashing over near the upright.
With half an hour still to play the score was at risk of blowing out, but Pioneer had other ideas and slowly started to wrestle back control of the game.
A couple of good breaks from midfielder Nikora Ewe saw Pioneer threaten the try line, and eventually it was older brother Lee who did dot down. After a period of sustained pressure the replacement loosie simply had too much power bashing his way through Gladstone tacklers.
The visitors kept up the pressure with wave after wave of surges at the line. Gladstone were feeling the heat and after constant infringing, referee Matt Booth said enough, sending No.8 Eddie Cranston to the sin-bin. But time ran out before Pioneer could cash-in and Gladstone held on.
In other matches, Hamish Meyrick, Chaz Matthews, AJ Manley, Lewis Bush scored tries for Greytown as they did business at home against East Coast.
Carterton finished round one on a winning note beating Marist 18-15, while Martinborough produced their best performance of the season thrashing Eketahuna 46-12.