Carterton halfback and captain Darryl Pickering gets his pass away under pressure. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Carterton, Greytown, Pioneer, and Gladstone prevailed in tough conditions on a dirty winter’s day. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE wraps up Saturday’s premier club rugby action.
Carterton turned on a strong second-half performance to come away with a convincing win in terrible conditions on Old Timers’ Day at Carterton.
Both teams struggled to adapt to the steady drizzle which became heavier as the game progressed, making handling a lottery.
Despite that, both teams showed intent to run the ball and utilise their attacking backlines.
After a scrappy start, Martinborough took the lead against the run of play when right-winger Michael Bing intercepted a pass and ran 75m to score.
Carterton replied nearly on halftime, with centre Aisea Sakopo crossing wide out after a strong run by lock Logan Wakefield and a lovely pass from No 8 Tupou Lea’aimanu.
The home side took control in the third quarter, having the better of territory and possession, and dominating the breakdown. First-five Sam Morison made Martinborough pay for poor discipline at the breakdown, and along with a try to Lea’aimanu, Carterton took a 21-7 lead into the final quarter.
First-five Tipene Haira gave the visitors some hope with a drop goal, but a try to busy winger Fiula Tameilau sealed the points. Centre Tristan Flutey capped a constructive game for Martinborough with a try on fulltime.
Carterton captain and halfback Darryl Pickering was confident at halftime that if they played in the right areas of the field, they would come away with the points.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve tried to run it from all parts of the field, and it didn’t work for us, so there was some emphasis on kicking and some of them didn’t come up off but in the end, we got there,” he said.
“Ideally we needed five points, but to get five points in these conditions is expecting quite a lot.”
Pickering praised forwards coach Trevor Will for his efforts in improving the team’s work at the breakdown. He also complimented his talented backline for their desire to run the ball.
“Those island boys you can’t keep them away from the action and I’m just proud of them that they’re still willing to play in these conditions.”
Martinborough coach James Bruce said the first 10-15 minutes of the second half hurt his side.
“We were beaten at the breakdown, and on a wet day it was a little bit tricky, and it would have been good for both teams if it was dry,” he said.
“I think we had a better first half than them and played some good simple rugby, but we probably kicked too much in the second and gave the ball back to them a little bit more than we should have, and we should have kept it in hand and just been patient.”
The win keeps Carterton in the top four race, while Martinborough will be playing for pride for the rest of the season.
Saturday was also a special day for the two opposing hookers. Martinborough’s James Pakoti, and Carterton’s Terongo Tekii were named in the Cook Islands squad to play the Tasman Mako next month.
Leaders Greytown ‘too good’
Leaders Greytown were too good for the 2020 champions, running in six tries for a convincing victory.
Two of the tries went to inspirational captain and No 8 Tavita Isaac, who Greytown coach Mark Childs said was outstanding in what was a very satisfying win given the conditions.
“It was typical grassroots club rugby mud, and it took both teams a while to adjust,” he said.
“Marist tried to come out and bash us around and put the big hits on and put us off our game, but we stood up to it and gave it back to them and were just too good in the end.”
The win gives Greytown a six-point lead at the top of table, with probably only a win needed over Martinborough next Saturday to secure a home semifinal.
Pioneer coach Koti Whittaker is praising his team’s character in holding on for a vital win in the mud at Eketahuna.
“It was a pretty terrible mud bath at the end, but we grinded it out really.”
“We got a good roll on in the last 20 minutes, and we managed to hold on to the ball for something like 15 phases.”
It was a nervous finish for Whittaker though, with Eketahuna awarded a penalty in the last minute.
“It was outside their kicking range probably and they went for the corner. We defended well and there was a knock-on and that was the game.”
Pioneer moved into a share of second place with the wind, while Eketahuna will probably need to win all three remaining games to make the top four.
East Coast 5
Gladstone held on by the skin of their teeth for a valuable win over East Coast in heavy rain at Whareama.
Blindside flanker Josh Gatenby scored Gladstone’s only try while first-five Jeremy Osborne had kicked two penalties. Halfback Bryan Arnold replied for the Coasties ensuring a tense finish.
The home side went close to snatching victory at the death, only for referee Peter Semmens to rule a double movement.
Gladstone coach Steve Thompson felt that his side won the game in the first half.
“We had a lot of possession in the first half, and we spent a lot of time in their 22,” he said.
“As the game progressed it evened out a little bit, but I thought we had the better of territory.”
Gladstone are well-placed to push for the top four, while the Coasties will probably need to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to make the top four.
Greytown 20; Gladstone, Pioneer 14; Carterton, Marist 11; Eketahuna, East Coast 6; Martinborough 3.
The Tuhirangi juggernaut continued on their winning way and retained the lead with an 88-5 thrashing of Pioneer. Carterton consolidated their second place with a 32-12 defeat of Martinborough; Masterton Red Star thumped Greytown 59-7 and remain in third place, Puketoi round up the top four after their 27-7 defeat of Gladstone, and Marist and East Coast battled to a 26-26 draw.