RUGBY
CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz
Gladstone 21
Marist 41

Five tries in 11 minutes either side of halftime swung the game Marist’s way in an otherwise tight tussle at Gladstone.

The home side led 14-0 after 23 minutes through tries to co-coach-prop, 43-year-old Stan Wright, and centre Nua Fonoilaepa. Marist were down to 14 players after stand-in captain, lock Cory Reid, was sent to the sin bin.

However, the game changed in a flash with a try to prop Devon Gerrard from a quick tap penalty after 33 minutes. A brilliant try from the kick-off to second-five Soli Malatai followed to even the scores when outstanding blindside flanker James Goodger caught the ball from the restart, saw a huge gap, beat three defenders on a 30-metre run and fed Malatai, who dotted down under the posts.

Promising winger Hayden Cooper added a third try after 39 minutes to finish off a strong solo burst by halfback Paddy Gluck, and fullback Elijah Mapusua crossed wide out to make the halftime score 24-14.

Another strong run by Gluck led to Malatai’s second try four minutes into the second spell, and the floodgates looked likely to burst open.

To their credit, Gladstone fought back with a second try to Fonoilaepa, but Marist finished the stronger with a sixth try to replacement winger Jordy McDowall.

Reid said the youthful energy got the team through after a shaky start, which saw his team on the wrong end of the penalty card and him yellow-carded by visiting North Harbour referee James Wheaton for repeat infringements.

“For those early penalties, it was getting used to his interpretations. But we’ll take that one, and that’s the first taste of the country teams, so we’re pretty happy,” Reid said.

“That was probably the fastest game we’ve had to play – probably not as physical but definitely the speed of it.”

Reid said although Goodger and Malatai stood out with their moments of brilliance, it was a total team effort.

“James will never make it about himself, but he’s a star; he can do everything and is a hell of a good guy too, and a team man. Hopefully, we can keep him fit and healthy.

“For us, those guys stand out every week. They do their thing, and sometimes it’s the grinders that don’t get that time in the limelight but do a lot of the work like in our front row, Stan Wright [Junior] has been massive.”

Carterton 34
Eketahuna 12

Carterton coach Neil Rodger praised his team’s defensive effort in coming from behind to beat a determined Eketahuna at Carterton.

The visitors led for much of the first half, but a try to hooker Hone Vella at halftime changed the momentum for the home side.

“Eketahuna were hammering our line a lot, especially towards the end of the first half. To be fair, they were probably the better side and had the majority of the ball for 20-30 minutes of the first half, but we just held them out and had a few turnovers, and we were able to clear,” Rodger said.

“That probably turned the tide because if they’d scored another try or two then, that would’ve made it a little bit harder.”

In the second half, the home side added another three tries to come away with a hard-earned bonus point victory. Prop Ash Casey stood out with two tries, including a 25m run for one of them.

East Coast 34
Greytown 25

East Coast coach Aaron Matenga credits his bench for their come-from-behind win over Greytown at Whareama.

“We were behind most of the game, made a few changes, and managed to get over the top and got a bit of space between us on the scoreboard,” Matenga said.

“The bench that came on sparked it for us, and we got away with it, but Greytown played pretty well and were stiff competition, and it was good to have that battle.”

No. 8 Sam Barbour, captain and flanker Matt Perry, and props Terry Norman and Jahrome Graham stood out in the side who were missing five regular starters.

“We had a few guys still under the weather, but that’s no excuse, and the beauty is that there’s a lot of improvement that we can work on.”

Pioneer 15
Martinborough 12

Strong defence over the final quarter was the key to Pioneer holding for a valuable four points on Old-Timer’s Day at Jeans St.

Pioneer went out to a 15-0 lead through tries to winger Arapeta Kingi and halfback Wiremu Haira.

However, Martinborough fought back and dominated the second half.

“Good defence and fitness levels were good enough to hold on,” said Pioneer coach Victor Thompson

“They took it to us, and especially for the last 20, they hammered our line, but we got off the hook, and that’s our get of jail free card.”

Thompson was thrilled with the determined effort but said there was still a lot to work on.

Reece Calkin, who switched between first-five and fullback, was again impressive with his pinpoint kicking game for the winners.

Senior Reserve

East Coast 31 Greytown-Carterton 14, Pioneer 24 Martinborough 12, Gladstone 14 Marist 31, Masterton Red Star vs Tuhirangi postponed.

 

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