Eketahuna celebrate winning the Moose Kapene Cup in May. PHOTO/FILE

Martinborough tipped for victory
The withdrawal of Masterton Red Star has made little difference to the situation facing the teams in the Tui Cup. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE previews today’s premier grade action.

Marist v Eketahuna, Memorial Park Turf, 2.35pm [Referee: Alistair Payne]

It’s absolute must-win time for Marist if they want to make the Tui Cup semifinals.

On 10 points — 12 shy of Greytown in fourth place — the Marist are probably already reliant of other results going their way to keep alive their slim chances.

Inconsistency has made Marist their own worst enemy. No better example than the first-round game against Eketahuna when they held a big lead only to lose 37-36 by conceding a last-minute penalty.

Eketahuna have been hit by injury to key players. Captain and centre Robbie Anderson is out for the rest of the club season with a broken thumb. He is joined on the sideline by the try-scoring fullback-winger

Vaifagaloa Mamoe, whose speed and guile have created headaches for opposition defences.
In-form flanker Johan van Vliet is also missing for Eketahuna. Although the former Wairarapa-Bush captain will be missed, his absence is more easily covered by arguably the strongest pack in the competition.

Coggie’s prediction

Marist simply must win. The artificial turf will suit their open style. Marist by less than 10.

Martinborough v Greytown, Martinborough, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

Second versus fourth.

Their first-round encounter was an uncompromising defensive slugfest, with Greytown getting up with a late try and then withstanding a strong Martinborough surge to win 15-8.

If anything, Martinborough have progressed since then and Greytown, after being early competition leaders, have stood still.

Martinborough are the competition entertainers.

They love to move the ball around and have a backline in top form. Winger Nathan Hunt has crossed for eight tries.

Greytown come into the match after a week off and hopefully are free of the injuries that have impacted on the team, especially in the front row, which had them go to uncontested scrums against Eketahuna.

Much of Greytown’s go-forward is provided by outstanding loose forward brothers, Tevita and Tana Isaac, and in-form prop Lewis Bush. Their efforts could give them an edge over the Martinborough eight who have proved a match for most teams.

Coggie’s prediction

Martinborough to win a close, high-scoring game, with a four-try bonus point.

Carterton v East Coast, Carterton, 2.35pm, [Mike Wakefield]

The two “so close, but no cigar” teams.

Carterton and East Coast could both lay claim to being unlucky, but unforced errors at inopportune times have been the downfall for both teams.

A win to Carterton could move them within one point of the top four depending on how Greytown go against Martinborough.

Carterton won their first-round match 32-15, but they cannot afford to treat East Coast lightly.

The Coasties have shown on more than one occasion they can match it with the other teams. They have a disruptive loose forward trio and plenty of pace in the backline.

Coggie’s prediction

Carterton to click and take away a bonus point win.

Revised standings

Gladstone 32 [eight games played], Martinborough 30 [8], Eketahuna 28 [8], Greytown 22 [7], Carterton 16 [8], Marist 10 [7], East Coast 7 [8].