Chance Ropiha on the burst for Martinborough against Pioneer at Jeans street grounds last Saturday. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
Marist and Greytown have made encouraging starts to their 2017 Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup premier division rugby campaigns and a battle royale looks very much on the cards when they meet at Greytown tomorrow.
Both teams will be relying on the ball-winning capabilities of their forwards to provide ample opportunity for their backs to cut loose on a regular basis, and a high-scoring game is in the offing.
Early round fixtures would suggest there is an intriguing difference in the relative strengths of the two packs.
Whereas the Greytown forwards seem to be at their best when they are allowed to use the rolling mauls and short passing rushes as the launching pad for their attacks, their Marist counterparts are more dangerous when the ball is quickly moved away from the set pieces and they can take full advantage of their mobility.
In the backs, it looks pretty much even with both sides having five-eighths who have proven playmaking qualities, Kingi Kaiwai for Greytown and Pua Tafa for Marist, and outsides with the pace to take toll of any overlaps created for them.
Neither side deserves to start favourite in this one and it would be no surprise if a goal kick or two eventually decides who comes up trumps.
The only game in Masterton on Saturday features Pioneer and East Coast at the Jeans St grounds.
Pioneer have the form book clearly on their side and will be looking to pick up the bonus point for scoring four or more tries.
Eketahuna gave Greytown plenty to think about before losing 10-8 last Thursday night, and have good reason to fancy their chances of fully extending Carterton who are at home.
Eketahuna are likely to play the game round their forwards while Carterton will look to the pace of their outside backs.
The result could very well depend on just how successful the Eketahuna pack is in depriving Carterton of quality possession.
Martinborough might have started the season with two losses but they did enough in their narrow loss to Pioneer last weekend to suggest they could give unbeaten Gladstone a decent hurry up in their fixture at Martinborough, especially in the backs where Amryn Sanders ,Stacey Aporo and Tim Priest are capable of making their presence felt in a big way.
Gladstone will, however, be tough nuts to crack up front where Andrew McLean, Andrew Smith, Richard Puddy and John Stevenson can all be expected to make a major contribution.