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Raymond stars with hat-trick

Martinborough flanker Chris Raymond scoring one of his three tries in his side’s 38-19 win over Marist on Saturday at Memorial Park. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

Martinborough played smart in beating Marist by a surprisingly decisive 38-19 in their Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup premier division rugby match at Memorial Park, Masterton on Saturday.

Aware of the dangers posed them by the slick Marist backline, Martinborough focused on denying them quality ball by a mix of forward domination and rushed defence and the plan worked perfectly.

By halftime, Martinborough were in front by a commanding 19-0, a lead which they never looked like surrendering at any stage of a second half where they doubled their score and Marist picked up 19 points of their own.

The Martinborough forwards had a clear ascendancy over their Marist counterparts in the possession stakes.

Several times, they had their opponents back pedalling in the scrums, they generally managed to take down their own lineout ball while spoiling at least a couple of the Marist throws and they were both constructive and destructive in the loose, an area in which tearaway flanker Chris Raymond was in a class of his own.

He was an absolute menace to Marist with ball in hand, as evidenced by his hat-trick of tries, and his tackle rate was enormous.

There was some impressive play too from the Martinborough backs.

With inspirational first-five Amryn Saunders calling the shots, they often created overlaps on attack by slick movement of the ball while, defensively, they were quick to get in the face of their Marist opposites and, consequently, confine the space in which they had to work.

Saunders scored probably the try of the match with a brilliant solo effort which saw him slice his way past two or three would-be defenders.

Fullback Tipi Haira had a strong game for Martinborough with his clearing kicks and always looking threatening on the counterattack.

There was a lot to admire in the powerful running of centre Tristran Flutey who finished with two tries.

Marist were never a winning chance in that second 40 minutes but came close to snatching a bonus point by running in three well-executed tries through Pua Tafa, Stan Wright and Hama Potoro.

Gladstone retained their lead on the points table with a 54-25 beating of Eketahuna in a home match on Friday night.

It was something of a romp for Gladstone who ran in eight tries, two to Cameron Hayton and others to Scott Day, Andrew McLean, Richard Knell, Brad Griffith, Aaron Cook and Nick Griffith.

Stu Smiler scored two tries for Eketahuna and they were also awarded a penalty try.

Carterton improved their chances of making the top four when they hammered East Coast 59-12 at Carterton on Saturday while the closest match came at Greytown where the home team withstood a brave Pioneer challenge 24-18.

Unofficial competition points are: Gladstone 47, Greytown 44, Martinborough 35, Carterton and Pioneer 32, Marist 29, Eketahuna 28 and East Coast six.

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