Gladstone lock Andrew Smith crashes over for one of his team’s seven tries in their 41-0 win over Marist. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
The fate of one of Wairarapa-Bush rugby’s most coveted trophies, the Moose Kapene Cup, hangs in the balance for the 2017 season.
Named after popular Martinborough prop, the late Chris Kapene, it goes to the leading premier division team at the end of one complete round of matches, and with one series of games to be played there are still two serious contenders left, Gladstone and Greytown, who share the competition lead with 24pts.
Of the two, Gladstone appear to have the tougher task ahead of them next weekend.
They will be at home against third placed Pioneer while Greytown will host winless East Coast, who are the very bottom of the points table.
Gladstone revelled in Marist’s decision to play their match on Saturday on the grass at Memorial Park No 2 rather than the artificial turf, ostensibly because it was their old-timer’s day.
It was an interesting decision for Marist to make as they are a side who like to play the running game and the firmer surface of the turf was always likely to suit them better.
On the other hand, Gladstone’s strength is their forwards, and the mud, which came with the churned-up grass, played into their hands and they eventually won by a comprehensive 41-0.
Results-wise the match was virtually over by halftime.
With their pack dominating, Gladstone ran in 24pts in the first half, including four tries, three of them to members of the tight five, lock Andrew Smith, prop Richard Webby and hooker Richard Puddy, and the other to midfielder Matthew Macrae.
Marist did show some improvement in the second half but failed to convert a couple of prime scoring chances into points and it was Gladstone who finished the stronger, scoring three further tries through Scott Harpham and the Griffith brothers, Brad and Tim.
Flanker Harpham, a new face in the Wairarapa-Bush squad to meet Hawke’s Bay on Queen’s Birthday, had a grand game for Gladstone, being busy on both attack and defence, and fellow loosies Eddie Cranston and Bryn Henderson also shone.
There was a lot to admire too in the hard graft of locks Andrew McLean and Andrew Smith, and the clever option taking of halfback Inia Katia.
For Marist, it was simply a day to forget.
There was a minor upset in the other premier division fixture played in Masterton on Saturday with Eketahuna downing Pioneer at Jeans Street by 33-29.
It was very much a topsy-turvy game on the scoreboard with the lead changing no fewer than six times before Eketahuna scored a try in the closing stages to seal the deal.
In the end Eketahuna owed their victory in the main to their forwards who were particularly effective with their rolling mauls and short passing rushes.
No 8 Brendon Campbell starred in numerous surging runs and the same could be said of flankers Sam Gammie and Johan Van Vliet both of whom also impressed with the tenacity of their close quarter defence.
Try scorers Robbie Anderson and Tom Meuli were the pick of the backs, who were generally content to play a secondary role.
Pioneer were, as usual, at their best in broken play where their flair often had the Eketahuna defence guessing.
Conan Gray and Jaden Mason were always in the thick of things up front while Nikora Ewe was their most dangerous runner in a rear-guard which didn’t always combine with their usual efficiency.
Greytown celebrated their old timer’s day in style-and kept their Kapene Cup hopes alive with a bonus point 27-13 victory over Carterton while Martinborough defeated East Coast 46-19.
Competition points: Gladstone and Greytown 24, Pioneer 19, Carterton 17, Eketahuna 16, Marist 13, Martinborough 12 and East Coast 0.