Maguire Smith impressed in Carterton’s 33-22 win over Eketahuna. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Gladstone have finished as top qualifiers for the semis. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE reviews the last round of matches in the Tui Cup.

Gladstone easily accounted for Marist 41-10 at Memorial Park on Saturday and finished the round robin as top qualifiers for the Tui Cup semifinals.

The defending champions barely had to raise a sweat as they ran in seven tries against a disappointing and lethargic Marist.

The writing was on the wall after just eight minutes when veteran lock Andrew McLean, who is starting to return to his usual blockbusting form, crashed through soft defence to open the scoring.

Four minutes later, a pinpoint crosskick from first-five Tim Griffith was caught by hooker Richard Puddy who had stayed out wide and scored to make it 10-0.

It was 15-0 after 21 minutes when fullback Harry Eschenbach finished off a move started by the little Fijian Inia Katia, playing at second-five, who weaved his magic before passing to winger Dylan Lord-Bune, who showed good pace to set up Eschenbach.

First-five Paddy Gluck, one of the few Marist players to enhance his reputation, gave the green and whites some hope, brushing through two defenders on a brilliant 25m run to the tryline.

Gladstone wrapped up the bonus point with a fourth try in the dying minutes of the half.

Imposing No 8 Joe Tako collected a kick on his 10m line, fed Eschenbach who ran 45m before Katia finished handy to the posts.

Marist were first to score in the second stanza through fullback Malatai Malatai.

The rest of the game belonged to Gladdy.

Winger Logan Prendeville-Heberton showed his class and pace after swooping on a loose ball inside the Marist 22, to score between the uprights.

Katia bulldozed his way through two or three players to score his second try, and evergreen centre Cameron Hayton jinked past three players and put the icing on a clinical performance, in a game that lacked any real intensity.

Carterton earned next week off and will go straight to the Hodder-Steffert Cup final after a comfortable 33-22 victory over Eketahuna at Carterton.

With little on the line, both teams attempted to throw the ball around in a game that lacked any real intent.

The first half was a scrappy affair with two converted tries giving Carterton the early advantage.

The home team extended their lead early in the second half, before Eketahuna came back and dominated the final 20 minutes.

First-five Sam Morison, centre Maguire Smith, winger Oakland Dean-Pene and lock Lachie McFadzean were the best of the home side, while No 8 Sam Shaw had a strong game for Eke.

Greytown warmed up for the semifinals, scoring nine tries in a 57-19 thumping of East Coast at Whareama.

Scores [home teams first]

Marist 10 [Paddy Gluck, Malatai Malatai tries]; Gladstone 41 [Inia Katia [2], Andrew McLean, Richard Puddy, Logan Prendeville-Heberton tries; Harry Eschenbach try, 2 cons; Cameron Hayton try, con] HT 5-22;

Carterton 33 Eketahuna 22; East Coast 19 Greytown 57

Standings after July 13

Gladstone 47, Martinborough 46, Greytown 41, Eketahuna 33, Carterton 26, Marist 21, East Coast 7

Senior Reserve scores

Section A

Tuhirangi 20 Carterton 10; Puketoi 3 Greytown 26.

Section B

Eketahuna 16 Pioneer Old Boys 13; Marist 33 Martinborough 36.

Section C

Featherston 17 Gladstone 40; East Coast – Bye.

TUI CUP SEMIFINALS

Saturday July 20

Gladstone v Eketahuna at Gladstone; Martinborough v Greytown at Martinborough

HODDER-STEFFERT CUP SEMIFINAL

Marist v East Coast at Memorial Park