TOKOMARU Bay man Hakarangi Tichborne, former Wairoa College student Zane Douglas and the New Zealand Defence Force rugby team have made a winning start to the International Defence Rugby Competition.
They beat the Australian Defence Force 47-35 in Japan on Sunday.
Tichborne is a captain in the New Zealand Army and plays at prop for Ngati Porou East Coast.
Douglas is an able diver in the New Zealand Navy and is a midfielder in the NZDF side, known as the Defence Blacks.
The teams were level at 14-all at halftime but the Defence Blacks pulled clear to lead 47-21 with 10 minutes to go, then withstood a late flurry by the Australians.
New Zealand are set to play defending champions Fiji in the semifinals on Thursday. The Fijians have 10 former internationals in their squad.
The International Defence Rugby Competition features 10 nations and will wrap up just after the Rugby World Cup in Japan gets under way.