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Carterton backs cut loose

Fiula Tameilau dives over in the corner. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

East Coast, Marist all square

Carterton secured their spot in the top four, and a draw at Whareama threw the cat among the pigeons in the race for the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals.
Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE wraps up Saturday’s penultimate round in the premier championship.

RUGBY

Carterton 43
Pioneer 5

Carterton confirmed their place in the semifinals with a bonus-point victory over Pioneer at Carterton.

The home side showed from the first whistle their intent to run the ball and utilise their exciting back four, but only had two Sam Morison penalties to show after 20 minutes.

The maroons came alive in the second quarter though, with their runaway tank at No 8 Tupou Lea’aemanu crossing for a try, which began with fullback Inia Katia launching an attack after he gathered a wayward kick from Pioneer centre Shayne Harmon.

Carterton added further tries to fleet-footed winger Aseri Waqa, and lock Mike Kloeg for a 28-0 halftime lead.

Pioneer came out with more intent in the second half and came close to scoring on two or three occasions, only to be denied by strong Carterton defence.

It took 23 minutes, and the sinbinning of Pioneer first-five Himiona Haira, before Carterton scored their bonus point try to industrious lock Logan Wakefield.

The home side were in again two minutes later when they counterattacked 5m out from their own line, with centre Aisea Sakopo beating the defence and feeding winger Fiula Tameilau to dot down wide out.

Pioneer finally did get on the board when Harmon scored in the corner, but Katia had the final say running 20m to score, only to tweak a hamstring, which forced him from the field.
“It’s what we’ve been looking for all season, that 80-minute performance,” said Carterton captain Daryl Pickering, “at halftime when you’re ahead by that much you quite often lose it in the second half, and it got a bit scrappy but to hold them out and only let them in for one try was a pretty good effort.”

Pickering was happy that the outside backs finally got the conditions to shine.

“It’s unreal, those boys with ball in space. We talked about it that as soon as we get a fine day, they’re hard to stop, and we would give them the ball as soon as they want it and it’s good to see them going down the field.”

Another to earn Pickering’s praise was Lea’aemanu, who has been dominant from the base of the scrum, and in broken play.

“He’s getting pressure from the guys above him for higher honours to play at prop, but he’s doing a massive job for us at No 8 and it’s hard to put him into the front row when he’s so damaging like that.”

Carterton need a win over Marist on Saturday to lock in a home semifinal, while Pioneer will have to upset Greytown.

Greytown 51
Gladstone 25

Gladstone coach Steve Thompson is praising the courage of his injury-hit side in going down to unbeaten Greytown at Greytown.

The already lengthy injury list was added to before kickoff when hooker Ryan Wilson pulled a calf muscle in the warmup.

That forced lock Andrew Smith, who was supposed to be sidelined with an injured knee, on to the side of scrum, with loose forward Roger Barnes moving into the front row.

Ninety seconds into the game, the crisis worsened with Harry Eschenbach forced from the field with a head knock.

They were then down to 14 men for 60 minutes after Smith aggravated his knee injury and came off. That only galvanised Gladstone though and they led 20-5 after 30 minutes.

In the end, the weight of possession and territory against them told, and Greytown ran away for a comfortable victory.

Gladstone will need to beat Eketahuna next up to have any chance of making the semis.

East Coast 27
Marist 27

East Coast and Marist played 55 minutes in the second half but still couldn’t be separated in a thriller at Whareama.

In a game of cut and thrust Marist scored five tries to four and the scores were locked together going into the last couple of minutes, but neither team was prepared to settle for the draw and kept pushing for the victory.

Play was continuous, apart from three missed penalty attempts, two by East Coast and one by Marist, all of which were run out of the in-goal by the defending team, until a Marist knock-on ended proceedings.

Marist captain Peter Beech said both teams wanted to win it, and neither would give up.

“A draw was a fair result by the way both teams played, but you’re gutted not to come away with the points,” he said.

“We fronted up in the forwards; the backline probably had their best game of the season defensively, and everyone was positive so you couldn’t fault the boys the way they played.”

Both teams will need wins on Saturday to make the top four.

Eketahuna 38
Martinborough 21

Moving the game to Eketahuna’s number two ground paid off for the home team with a convincing bonus-point win over Martinborough.

Eketahuna coach Craig Pepperell said the number one ground would have cut up very quickly, so they moved the game to the rarely used second ground to give their talented backline the best chance to shine.

It worked, with the home side running in five converted tries, all but one of them to the backs.

Pepperell said their set piece was very good and gave a good platform for the inside back combination of first-five Josh Pepperell, second-five Robbie Anderson, and centre Rhys Christian.

“They had so much ball to use, and they just moved it from side to side and opened them up and scored some really good tries.”

Martinborough contributed to the spectacle with three outstanding tries, but they were well beaten.

Eketahuna didn’t come out of the game unscathed with BJ Campbell [dislocated shoulder], hooker Josh Fulton [broken ribs], and prop Dan Neal [medial ligament] all added to the injury list.

Eketahuna will probably need a win over Gladstone on Saturday to stay in the top four.

PROVISIONAL POINTS

Greytown 30; Carterton 19; Eketahuna 16; Pioneer, Marist 15; Gladstone, East Coast 14; Martinborough 3.

SENIOR RESERVES

Big wins highlighted the final round of games before the quarterfinals.

Top qualifiers Tuhirangi easily dispatched Gladstone 44-15, Masterton Red Star annihilated Martinborough 93-0, and Puketoi defeated Greytown 26-5. Carterton and East Coast won their matches by default.

 

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