Reece Calkin scores for Martinborough in their win over Gladstone. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Martinborough win thriller and Greytown end Carterton’s hopes
Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale reviews the weekend’s premier club rugby.

A converted try in stoppage time gave Martinborough a 27-25 win over Gladstone at Gladstone and the lead in the Tui Cup Championship.

In a match that was to and fro for the whole 80 minutes, it was Martinborough who showed great patience to nab the try to equal the scores with time up.

After sustained pressure on the Gladstone tryline and a series of pick-and-goes, Martinborough finally spread the ball wide for Wiremu Haira to cross 10 metres in from the sideline.

Then it was up to first to first-five Tipi Haira, who had a mixed day goalkicking, to step up and slot the conversion, and although it was a wobbly old kick, it went between the uprights to seal the win.

It was Gladstone that dominated the early stages, with first-five Jeremy Osborne kicking two penalties for a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.

Halfback Chance Ropiha got Martinborough on the scoreboard after 32 minutes, when he took a quick tap from a penalty close to line to burrow over for the try.

Fullback Alex Priest gave Martinborough the lead four minutes later with a brilliant 30m run down the right wing and a 12-6 halftime lead.

The Martinborough forward pack slowly gained more and more dominance at scrum time.

That led to winger Reece Calkin finishing off a simple backline move from a scrum for an easy try to extend the score to 17-6.

When it looked like Martinborough would take control of the match the home team bounced back with replacement first-five Jack Eschenbach scoring between the posts with his second touch of the ball.

Big No 8 Joe Teko ran on to a short pass to crash over under the posts and give the home team the lead.

A try in the corner to centre Epeli Rayaqayaga extended the lead to 25-17 with about 10 minutes left on the clock.

Haira narrowed the gap to 20-25 with a brilliant drop goal from about 35 metres, before the late drama gave Martinborough a win in a thoroughly entertaining encounter.

Greytown dominated the first half of their encounter with Carterton to claim a 38-25 victory and consolidate their spot in the top four.

With the Toiora Cup, in memory of Finn Yeats who had played for both clubs and died suddenly earlier this year, also on the line there was plenty of emotion from both teams.

However, it was Greytown who took control after conceding two early penalties, to run in four tries and a 31-6 halftime lead.

Carterton did manage three tries in the second half, but Greytown added a fifth try to seal an important win.