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Intense forward battle looms

In-form No 8 Tavita Isaac on the charge for Greytown. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

The battle for forward supremacy will take centre stage when unbeaten teams Gladstone and Greytown lock horns in a Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup premier division rugby match at Gladstone tomorrow.

Both teams have experience to burn in their packs and they will be equally keen to impose their imprint there on a game which promises to go right down to the wire before a winner is found.

The set pieces should be fiercely competitive, especially the lineouts where Gladstone, which will be celebrating their Old Timers Day, will be relying on two of the best in the region, Andrew McLean and Andrew Smith, to secure an advantage over the likes of Greytown’s Regan Pope, Tim Iro and Tavita Isaac, who are no mugs in that department either.

Isaac, for his part, has become something of a revelation for Greytown in the No 8 jersey.

Up until last season he was much better known for his try scoring deeds on the wing but he has fashioned into an “old school” back rower, who takes the ball up strongly in close quarter situations and covers huge territory on cover defence.

Interestingly, Gladstone has a No 8 of similar type in John Stevenson and their personal duel should be another highlight of tomorrow’s clash.

Marist gave Greytown a decent fright at Greytown last weekend after conceding them a 20 point start going into the second half and eventually losing by just four points.

Their encounter at Memorial Park with in-form Pioneer, who have racked up two wins and a draw in their three games to date, could well be something of a try fest as both teams prefer to place the emphasis on attack.

In fact, the end result will probably come down to which of the two last the 80 minutes the best.

Carterton are also celebrating their Old Timers Day tomorrow and that should be incentive enough for their premier side to raise the ante when they host a Martinborough side who have made steady improvement from week to week and look ready to strike gold at any tick of the clock.

Everything about this game suggests a close finish with neither side appearing to hold any sort of advantage at forward or back.

The form book certainly suggests Eketahuna should register their first win of the season when they play East Coast at Eketahuna but, having said that, East Coast were more competitive than most pundits expected against Pioneer last weekend and would have taken a lot of confidence from that performance.

Eketahuna’s forwards are a rugged lot though and it’s hard to imagine them not dominating the battle for possession and therefore providing the platform for a comfortable success.

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