Greytown’s Nick Olson. PHOTOS/FILE
Marist seek icing for 75th anniversary cake
Marist are seeking their first championship in 18 years, and some Greytown players are on target to win their fifth title. CHRIS COGDALE previews today’s Tui Cup final.
Having a core of players who have won the Tui Cup four times is a big advantage going into today’s final Greytown coach Mark Childs says.
Greytown won four titles in five years, the last in 2016 with a 27-13 defeat of Carterton, and Childs said seven or eight of that team would line up on Trust House Memorial Park today.
Captain Tavita Isaac, lock Rihi Brown, midfielder Teihana Brown, lock Regan Pope, and veteran outside back Nick Olson are among the players who have won titles with the club.
“There are guys in there who have won four finals, and I actually think that’s really big,” Childs said.
“It gives the younger players who haven’t experienced it before the knowledge that nearly half the team have won a competition, so when it comes to preparation and guys being used to what happens, it’s a big advantage I feel.”
Childs said there was also a good mix of youth with exciting young props Chris Hemi and Lewis Bush, and utility back Raniera Petersen outstanding in the 22-18 semifinal win over Eketahuna.
Childs has named the same 22 as the semifinal, with veteran loose forward Tana Isaac the only notable absentee, having torn the bicep off his bone in preparation for the semifinal.
Although he is in his first season of coaching, preparing for finals is nothing new for Childs, who played in Greytown’s 1995 championship win over Pioneer, and won numerous cricket championships with Greytown.
“I’ve played enough big games in sport to know what it takes to prepare, and that’s both rugby and cricket. As a coach, you need to make sure that the guys are prepared well, and they understand the game plan.’
“I’ve enjoyed the week, it’s probably gone a little bit slower than normal, but it’s just one of those good things in life you experience.”
As for the opposition, he is not expecting any surprises from Marist.
“We expect them to use their big forwards to get over the advantage line and release their backline.
“Just looking at the videos that seems to be their blueprint to get that go-forward ball, and we’re expecting them to come out and give it a real good crack.
“It should be a great game of rugby.
“I’m not overconfident, but what I am confident in is that the team are well prepared, and we’ve got some settled combinations. But on the day, it’s the team that turns up and executes the best,” Childs said.
Victory for Marist would end a title drought dating back to 2002 when they beat Eketahuna, and would put the icing on the club’s 75th anniversary.
Despite their lack of finals experience, captain Peter Beech believes Marist have the squad to lift the cup.
“We have guys who have played finals rugby, like Joe [Beech] who won the Jubilee Cup with Old Boys University, Corey Reid won a championship with Gladstone, Tafa Tafa has played some pretty serious rugby, and James Goodger has played at a high level,” he said.
“Youthful enthusiasm is massive for us. The Malatai brothers [Ala and Soli] are running around causing havoc and Sam Siaosi and Stan Wright they’re all young guns who have really stepped up this year.
“Tua Levi and Jeremiah Mapasua coming off the bench bring a lot of energy and heat.”
Marist won the first-round encounter 28-27, with first-five Paddy Gluck sealing the victory with a late conversion. Peter Beech expected a similarly close game today.
“Both teams have refined things. Greytown lost to us and Eketahuna, but they’ve been on a winning streak since then.
“They’ll have some things up their sleeves, they have some great ball players in the backs and their forward pack will go all day.
“It will be who can take advantage of the opportunities the other team give them. Discipline will be a big factor as well, and in finals goalkicking is vital,” Peter Beech said.
“It’s been a good year so far, so let’s hope we can do the business.”
The game will be livestreamed on the Wai-Bush Facebook page from 2.35pm today.
If I was a TAB bookie, I would set the odds at $1.87 each, that’s how close I think it will be. Whoever holds their nerve the best with that clutch play could decide what is shaping as a tense, tight final. For the sake of picking a winner I will just go for Greytown’s experience to prove the difference. But as neutral I’m just looking forward to a good game of footy.
The past 10 Wairarapa-Bush club champions
26-17 East Coast
15-0 Masterton Red Star