Tristan Flutey scoring one of his two tries for Martinborough against Marist last weekend. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
The foot is firmly on the pedal for teams chasing semi-final spots in the Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup premier division rugby competition.
Gladstone and Greytown have, of course, already booked their places and, at the other end of the points table, East Coast are out of the reckoning.
But for the other five sides, the results of tomorrow’s penultimate qualifying round matches are of the utmost importance.
On paper, Martinborough appear to have the best chance of accumulating the maximum five points as they will be at home to East Coast.
There was a look of real confidence about the way Martinborough despatched Marist by a hefty margin last weekend with their forwards setting the platform for their backs to cut loose on a regular basis.
If Martinborough come anywhere close to repeating the performance tomorrow, they will be unstoppable.
More and more, they appeal as a side who could be a big handful come playoff time.
Eketahuna have had some unfortunate player absences at the wrong part of the season with stalwarts Tom Meuli and Johan Van Vliet no longer available and the mainstay of the backline, Robbie Anderson, battling a head knock.
That clearly makes them more vulnerable for their encounter with Pioneer at Eketahuna and gives the favouritism tag to Pioneer.
There still shouldn’t be a lot in it though.
First appearances might be that Greytown will have little to play for in their away match with Carterton but the incentive for them to produce a top performance is that a win will guarantee them home advantage in the semis.
Carterton, for their part, will also lack nothing on the score of motivation for a loss here and it’s probably goodbye to their semi-final aspirations.
Taking all that into account, the intensity should equal that to come in a certain game to be played at Eden Park a few hours later, and the result is no easier to predict either.
Marist will throw the proverbial kitchen sink at Gladstone because they too are in the position of knowing that a loss could end their semi-final hopes.
Gladstone, on the other hand, are in an interesting position for they already have a home semi booked and can now afford to give their usual reserve bench greater playing time.
It’s a tricky situation for coach Steve Thompson though as the winning habit is something you never want to break.