Martinborough No 8 Cody Cunningham, with ball, and his teammates celebrate his try. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Martinborough 25
East Coast 15

Nathan Hunt, No 11, challenges East Coast’s Liam Goldsworthy for the ball.

East Coast will play Carterton in next month’s Lane Penn Trophy final for the ‘Town and Country’ series, despite being on the wrong end of the scoreline in a scrappy affair at Martinborough.

The Coasties finished the three rounds tied with Gladstone but had already secured their place in the final having won their clash two weeks ago.

Saturday’s game never rose to any great heights, with light rain making handling tricky, and discipline letting both sides down with referee Matt Perry dishing out five yellow cards, three to the Coasties and two to Martinborough.

Playing into a brisk southerly breeze, the home side had the better of the first half, dominating the scrums, and maintaining possession for numerous phases, which pleased captain Tipene Haira.

“The scrums, we’ve been working hard on and just trying to get our forwards going because we usually like to spin it wide, but we wanted to dominate them in the forwards, and I thought we did that in stages in the first half,” Haira said.

“We talked about building phases and holding on to the ball because we were going into the wind and we did that quite well, but the second half we let them back in the game, our discipline wasn’t good enough and we could have been better.”

To the forefront of the home side’s dominant forward effort was big prop Ty Waight, who was a powerhouse at scrum time, earning several penalties, and made several strong charges with ball in hand.

“We’ve been working on his fitness and he’s playing bloody well,” said Haira. “Hopefully he doesn’t get injured because we need him. He’s only just turned 20, he’s got a lot of potential.”

The Coasties were first to score through a penalty from Joe Gordon after 19 minutes, only for Martinborough to take the lead two minutes with the try of game.

Started on halfway, fullback Haira spotted two tight forwards in front of him and beat them, and then delivered a beautiful pass to winger Nathan Hunt to score out wide.

The home side’s scrum dominance paid off with a try to No 8 Cody Cunningham from a 5m scrum with the Coasties down to 14, with blindside flanker Fynn Ellmers in the sin bin.

The visitors again paid for their poor discipline, when down to 13 players, with winger Chapman Kutia crossing wide out to extend Martinborough’s lead to 18-3.

Winger Chapman Kutia dives over for Martinborough’s fourth try.

East Coast showed true character to bounce back as first-five Cam Ravenwood scored from a quick tap penalty. Hunt sealed the victory with his second try after kicking through a loose ball, winning the race to the bouncing ball and sprinting away to score under the posts.

A try to hooker Coasties’ hooker George Parke converted by Gordon wrapped up the scoring.

The win was Martinborough’s second of the season and will give the team belief heading into start of the championship next week.

“Last year was a tough season, we only won one game,” said Haira, “and going into Pioneer next week it’s definitely a big confidence booster.”

Greytown 8
Marist 37

Marist pulled away in the second half to run out comfortable winners over a Greytown side that played about 60 minutes with only 14 players, after lock Jeremy Cook was sent off for an alleged punch.

The home side held Marist for much of the game but the injection of Wairarapa-Bush winger Soli Malatai at second-five in the second half changed the game. Malatai’s tricky footwork and pace gave the Marist outside backs extra space and they took advantage, with the promising Hayden Cooper finishing with a hat-trick of tries.

Marist captain Peter Beech was satisfied with the effort despite missing several first-choice players.

“It was a good all-round performance by us,” Beech said.

“I’m happy with the way we turned up for that, and we’re starting to click at the right time.”

Fynn Ellmers, with ball, had a strong game at blindside flanker for East Coast.

Beech said although the scoreline blew out in the end, Greytown showed a lot of determination and he felt they will be a different proposition when at full strength.

Gladstone 31
Eketahuna 13

Gladstone co-coach Stan Wright was happy with the way his side finished the ‘Town and Country’ series with a hard-fought win over Eketahuna at Gladstone.

Wright said Gladstone had the upper hand for most of the game and the margin could have been greater if it wasn’t for unforced errors.

Eketahuna got within four points midway through the second half, before two late tries sealed the bonus point victory.

Fullback Harry Eschenbach and hooker Ryan Wilson stood out for the winners, while second-five Robbie Anderson was a constant threat with ball in hand a determined defender for Eketahuna.

“We’ve still a got a lot to work on,” said Wright.

“The main thing is we see the boys building and it’s best to say they see what we’re trying to do is working and they’re starting to believe in it.

“At the start it was all totally new, and it took a while for them to trust the system, but they see it does work if you stick to the plan.”

Lane Penn trophy provisional points

Country: East Coast, Gladstone 10; Martinborough 9; Eketahuna 1.

Town: Carterton 14; Marist 5; Pioneer 5; Greytown 1.



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