Greytown’s Abe Southey on the break during his team’s win over Carterton last weekend. PHOTO/KYLIE ALEXANDER
By Gary Caffell
Greytown have the inside running as the battle to be the leading team at the end of the first round in the Wairarapa-Bush premier division club rugby series goes down to the wire tomorrow.
The southerners are one of only two teams left — the other being Gladstone — with a chance of winning the coveted Chris Kapene Cup, named after one of the region’s favourite rugby sons.
Both are on 19 points.
But while Greytown is warmly favoured to secure a bonus point victory in their home match against cellar dwellers East Coast, Gladstone’s task promises to be more difficult against Pioneer at Gladstone.
Pioneer are third on the competition table and will probably fancy their chances of beating Gladstone.
It will be interesting to see the tactics applied by Gladstone here.
Normally against a team such as Pioneer who are at their best when play opens up and they can utilise their flair and mobility out wide, one would expect coach Steve Thompson to have them focus on dominating the forward battle through the physical toughness of players such as Andrew McLean, Andrew Smith, Richard Puddy, John Stevenson and up and coming flanker Scott Harpham.
However, the knowledge that four of more tries almost certainly need to be scored to keep them in contention for the Kapene Cup might tempt Thompson to throw caution to the wind and rely on the inventiveness of backs such as Inia Katia, Cameron Hayton and promising Matthew Macrae to get them over the tryline on a regular basis.
Greytown coach Eli Telford won’t have any problems sorting out his team’s tactics against East Coast.
The more the season has progressed, the more Greytown has appealed as the most complete team in the premier division series.
Simply by doing the basics well, they should have too many guns for an East Coast squad who will lack nothing for endeavour but don’t have the same depth of talent.
The other two matches in the premier division series are still important results-wise as competition points secured in the Kapene Cup carry over into the major championship, the Tui Cup.
Carterton and Marist should have a cracker of a game at Carterton with Marist desperate to bounce back from the 41-0 flogging they took from Gladstone last weekend.
Their previous form suggests that was one of those forgettable games most club sides have from time to time and they would only need to be at full strength to give Carterton a decent run for their money.
In fact, if Marist can break even in the forward exchanges the pace of outside backs such as the Malatai brothers might even give them the edge.
Martinborough will be celebrating Old-timers’ Day when they take on Eketahuna at Martinborough.
Eketahuna would have taken plenty of confidence from their gutsy win over Pioneer last weekend and if their forwards such as Brendan Campbell, Johan Van Vliet and Sam Gammie are in the same form here, then Martinborough could be working overtime to earn the amount of ball required to give exciting attackers Amryn Sanders and Stacey Aporo the chance to cut loose in the backs.