Four clubs are unbeaten after two rounds of the Men’s National League with pre-season favourites taking top spots.
Clubs with maximum points are the three regional champions — Wellington Olympic (Central), Christchurch United (Southern) and Auckland City (Northern).
Wellington Olympic pummeled Napier City Rovers 7-1 with a rapid-fire start that took the Central League champions to a 4-0 lead within half an hour.
English import Deri Corfe dragged a goal back just before half-time.
Striker Gianni Bouzoukis made it 5-1 as he got his hat-trick early in the second spell.
Any hopes of a Rovers revival disappeared in the 66th minute when Jonathan McNamara was given a straight red by referee Cory Mills, for violent conduct.
The card will mean a three-match ban for McNamara, taking him out of contention for a third of the National League’s championship phase.
Olympic finished off the rout with Jack-Henry Sinclair completing his hat-trick, and captain Ben Mata from the penalty spot.
Main photo: Jack-Henry Sinclair … struck a hat-trick in Olympic’s win. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Southern League champions Christchurch United can be happy with another win, beating Wellington Phoenix Reserves 2-0, given the difficulty of their opening fixtures in the competition.
In round 1, they needed to beat Eastern Suburbs, unbeaten in this year’s Northern League, and the Phoenix side was full of age group internationals.
United face another challenge in round 3 with a trip north to meet unbeaten Auckland United.
Auckland City produced their second 1-0 win of the competition, beating newcomers Manurewa with a goal from top scorer Ryan de Vries midway through the first half.
In round 1, City beat Phoenix Reserves 1-0.
The Navy Blues continue their drive to defend their national crown but already, the fixtures against Olympic and Christchurch United look to be the title deciders.
Auckland United and Eastern Suburbs shared a 1-1 draw at Keith Hay Park, with both goals scored late.
Both clubs will see the result as two points dropped rather than one point gained.
Petone suffered their second loss, a 5-1 home defeat to Cashmere Technical, and their challenge gets no easier when they travel to Auckland next weekend to face Eastern Suburbs.
Results — Round 2
Games played on Saturday September 30, 2023
Christchurch United 2 (Sam Philip 54′, Aaron O’Driscoll 78′)
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 0
Wellington Olympic 7 (Gianni Bouzoukis 4′, 29′, 56′, Jack-Henry Sinclair 11′, 22′, 81′, Ben Mata 86′ pen)
Napier City Rovers 1 (Deri Corfe 45+1′)
Petone 1 (Matt Brazier 66′)
Cashmere Technical 5 (Aidan Barbour-Ryan 11′, Garbhan Coughlan 52′, 78′, Yuya Taguchi 59′, 71′)
Auckland United 1 (Nic Zambrano 74′)
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Daniel Bunch 84′)
Game played on Sunday October 1, 2023
Auckland City 1 (Ryan de Vries 23′)
FIFA+ stream of the Auckland City v Manurewa match is not available