Paleso Mapuilesua in action for Masterton Red Star against Greytown this season. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Masterton Red Star have endured a torrid time of it in the Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup rugby competition in 2018, but they aren’t prepared to throw in the towel just yet.

Red Star spent last season dominating the senior reserve grade with an eye to earning promotion back to premier rugby.

They beat Tuhirangi 29-20 in the reserve final last July, and that set them up for a promotion/relegation clash with last year’s premier wooden spooners, East Coast.

But their quest appeared to come to a grinding halt when East Coast triumphed 48-27 in that match, leaving them preparing for another year in reserve grade.

Coach Brent McGlashan said some of their players had moved to other clubs with the aim of playing premier rugby.

“We lost seven of our players from our backline who wanted to play premier rugby.

“We can’t blame them for that – we thought it was great for them to get the chance to play at that level.”

Pioneer then complicated the equation by withdrawing from the premier grade this season, and Red Star were offered the chance to make the leap up.

Unfortunately for them, a large chunk of the squad that performed so well for them in 2017 had already disappeared.

The results so far have reflected that loss of personnel, with Red Star yet to register a win through their nine matches to date.

McGlashan said it was always going to be a rebuilding year for the club, and that just happened to coincide with a dramatic jump in match intensity.

“It’s nothing we weren’t expecting – it’s a year of building for us.

“It’s taken a while to get used to the intensity, and we’re still getting used to it.”

Red Star have been competitive in patches throughout the season, but have failed to maintain that level for long periods.

That was illustrated perfectly in their match with Martinborough earlier this month, where they played the better rugby for most of the first half but fell away alarmingly in the second spell to lose 7-75.

A similar scoreline followed last Saturday, as they went down 5-75 to Marist.

“Now it’s really about finding that consistency,” McGlashan said.

“We have a good game now and then and then a few bad ones, but we’re getting there.”

He said there were indications they could get some of their players back from other clubs if they can keep their place in the premier grade next year, but to do that they will have to either finish above one of the other premier teams, or win the promotion/relegation playoff.

McGlashan will finish coaching the Red Star side at the end of this season, and said they were hopeful there would be a solid foundation for the incoming coach and players to work with.

“We really want to get a win – we definitely want to get at least one for the season and stay in there for next year.

“Next year there will be a new coach and players and hopefully they can build on what we’ve been doing.”