Eketahuna halfback Lee Thompson crashes over for the opening try against Marist. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

Marist and Greytown snatch wins as games go to the wire
Greytown edge out Martinborough
Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE reviews the weekend’s premier club rugby.

Two tries in the last five minutes had Marist snatching a dramatic 26-21 victory over Eketahuna to keep their slim top four chances alive in the Tui Cup.

The scores were locked at 14-14 with about 10 minutes to play at Memorial Park, when Eketahuna No 8 Sam Shaw ran from a scrum 25 metres out and crossed untouched to score handy to the posts. First-five Josh Pepperell converted for a 21-14 lead.

That spurred Marist into action, and they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Eketahuna defence.

The green and whites were rewarded when winger Malatai Malatai scored wide out, finishing off a simple backline move from a 5m lineout and three ensuing phases. Captain James Goodger coolly slotted the conversion from the wide angle into the stiff breeze to make the score 21-21.

The drama wasn’t over as Marist searched for a valuable win. A beautiful blindside move, started on their own 10m line, ended with substitute winger Aifala Schuster sprinting nearly 50m to score a brilliant match-winner.

The win looked beyond Marist after the first half when they trailed 0-14 playing with the wind. Marist dominated the early stages but Eketahuna took control after 18 minutes when lively halfback Lee Thompson dived over for the first try after a series of forward drives.

The rest of the half belonged to Eketahuna. Winger Ausage Faumui extended the lead when he got on the end of a backline move set up by a lovely pass from veteran centre Simanu Simanu.

Simanu may not be as fit and fast as he was in his heyday, but his class was evident with some nice touches, including a brilliant kick that put the Marist defence under pressure. The resulting play leading to Eke’s second try.

The second half was a complete contrast, with Marist taking control. Their pick-and-go was more effective and the Eketahuna defence tended to sit back and wait.

Things get tight between Marist and Eketahuna.

Marist finally got their first points after 45 minutes when centre Bon Wilson made a superb midfield bust and fed second-five Chris Matthews who scored under the posts.

The scores were even 10 minutes later when Marist were awarded a penalty try after prop Sam Gammie deliberately infringed on the tryline.

He was subsequently sin-binned and that led to Eke’s best period of play, but in the end it wasn’t enough to deny Marist a deserved victory for some enterprising play.

For the winners, Goodger had a strong second half at lock, as did Kieran O’Brien when he came on as a second-half substitute.

Former Wairarapa-Bush utility back Sam Monaghan had a promising return to the club scene with a solid performance at fullback for Eketahuna.

It was also a late try that gave Greytown a hard-fought 15-13 victory over Martinborough at Martinborough.

Winger Taylor Fenwick scored with about 10 minutes to play to even the scores 13-13.

A superb sideline conversion by first-five Raniera Peterson sealed an important win for Greytown, who went into the match with only one premier substitute and relied on players from their senior reserve team, who had at had played earlier, to fill the bench.

Greytown coach Eli Telford was rapt with the win – “it was a bloody good team effort.”

“We’d lost a couple of games and we needed the win, and Martinborough have been playing good footy, so to come here on old-timers’ day and take the win, I’m very stoked.”

Brock Price carried on his try-scoring bonanza in Carterton’s 41-5 drubbing of East Coast at Carterton.

The second-five, who only converted from loose forward since returning from a season in England, was in brilliant form, running in four tries, taking his total to 10 for the season.

Openside flanker Ethan Pinfold scored two tries and winger Cheyenne Harmon also scored in the surprisingly one-sided encounter.

Scores [home teams first]

Marist 26 [Chris Matthews, Malatai Malatai, Aifala Schuster tries; penalty try; James Goodger 2 cons] Eketahuna 21 [Lee Thompson, Ausage Faumui, Sam Shaw tries, Josh Pepperell 3 cons] HT 0-14; Carterton 41 East Coast 5 HT 22-5; Martinborough 13 Greytown 15.

Provisional standings after June 15 [games played in brackets]

Gladstone 32 [8], Martinborough 31[9], Eketahuna 29 [9], Greytown 26 [8], Carterton 21 [9], Marist 15 [8], East Coast 7 [9]

Senior Reserve scores

Marist 73 East Coast 0; Carterton 19 Tuhirangi 21; Martinborough 22 Greytown 25; Pioneer Old Boys 32 Eketahuna 19; Puketoi 27 Gladstone 15; Featherston bye