Masterton Red Star’s Joe Hei Hei takes a tackle in the team’s loss to Marist. PHOTOS/PETE NIKOLAISON
Eketahuna held off Greytown and Gladstone repelled a strong Carterton challenge to share the lead in the Tui Cup. Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale reviews Saturday’s club rugby.
Eketahuna won an error-ridden game with Greytown 13-10 on Saturday to retain the lead in the Tui Cup, although they’ve been joined by Gladstone, who withstood a late Carterton charge for a bonus point
At Eketahuna, all the scoring came in the first half in what turned out to be a dour, forgettable match.
First-five Josh Pepperell gave the home team an early lead with a penalty, but it was Greytown who crossed the tryline first after seven minutes.
A missed tackle gave the Greytown backs the space they needed, a beautiful kick through was gathered by Usoalii Samuel, who passed to his midfield partner Shayne Harmon to dot down.
Eketahuna retook the lead in the 17th minute, when fullback Vaifagaloa Mamoe got the ball on the end of a backline move, jinked his way past three defenders and used his pace to score handy to the posts for an easy conversion.
Pepperell extended the lead with a penalty but just when it looked like Eke would go into the break with a handy lead, Greytown swooped on a loose ball and four passes later Samuel scored in the corner.
If the first half gave the spectators hope of a thrilling second 40 minutes, they were left disappointed.
Both teams failed to put phases together with knock-ons, poor passing and option-taking, along with shambolic lineouts blighting play.
Then there was the farcical situation of non-contestable scrums from the 53rd minute because Greytown had only three front rowers listed on their team list, surely an unacceptable scenario at premier club level.
Greytown did have the chance to equal the scores with a penalty from a handy position but opted for the lineout, only to turn over the ball.
Eketahuna’s courage was tested after they were reduced to 13 players after 65 minutes, when Pepperell was sin-binned for continual offending and captain Robbie Anderson joined him for dissent.
The Eke forward pack rolled up their sleeves and, led superbly by openside flanker, Johan van Vliet, No 8 Sam Shaw and prop Sam Gammie, kept Greytown pinned in their own half for much of the 10 minutes.
Apart from his yellow card, Anderson had an outstanding game at centre, being strong on defence and showing some deft touches on attack.
Gladstone held off a strong challenge to beat Carterton 32-27 at Gladstone and move to a share of the lead. Gladdy went out to an early lead before Carterton hit back and dominated for long periods.
The maroons had their chances to level the scores in the dying minutes, but smart Gladstone defence forced errors and turnovers at crucial times.
Young winger Logan Prendeville had an outstanding game for Gladdy and caused the Carterton defence problems whenever he had the ball.
The two bonus points picked up by Carterton have them 10 points outside the top four and needing a win over Marist in the next match to keep alive their championship aspirations.
Nathan Hunt was the star for Martinborough as they cruised to a 31-15 bonus-point win over East Coast at Martinborough.
The flying winger crossed for three tries, in what Martinborough coach James Bruce believes was the team’s best performance of the season. Not for the first time this year, the home team’s effort was blighted by yellow cards, with three handed out, including a period in the second half when they were down to 13 players.
Bryan Arnold was in brilliant form for East Coast, not in his regular halfback position but on the wing, where he often had the home team defence stretched.
At Memorial Park, Marist quelled a spirited Masterton Red Star to eventually come away with a 51-5 victory and move to within seven points of the top four.
The Masterton Red Star forwards started well and matched the Marist pack for much of the first half.
But once Marist gained a good share of possession their backs created space and they had too much pace for the Stars’ defence, running in nine tries.
Masterton Red Star prop Joe Hei Hei and hooker Kody Thompson had outstanding games in a losing effort and showed they have the potential to play at a higher level.
The competition now takes a break for Queen’s Birthday Weekend, with the next round on June 8.
Tui Cup Scores
[Home teams first]
Eketahuna 13 [Vaifagaloa Mamoe try, Josh Pepperell 2 pens, con] Greytown 10 [Shayne Harmon try, Usoalii Samuel try] HT 13-10; Marist 51 Masterton Red Star 5; Gladstone 32 Carterton 27; Martinborough 31 East Coast 15
Points after eight rounds
Eketahuna and Gladstone 32, Martinborough 31, Greytown 27, Marist 20, Carterton 17, East Coast 12, Masterton Red Star 0.
Burger King Senior Reserves
Marist 0 Carterton 36; Gladstone 56 East Coast 28; Eketahuna 7 Puketoi 29; Featherston 17 Martinborough 72; Tuhirangi 17 Greytown 10; Pioneer Old Boys bye.