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Carterton celebrate Pasifika links

Martinborough vs Pioneer

Martinborough,
2.35 pm [Pete Semmens]

The Pioneer players are “a bit beaten up” after last week’s bruising Lane Penn Trophy final loss to Martinborough, but coach Victor Thompson said the players are relishing the challenge of meeting the winners in tomorrow’s first round of the championship.

Martinborough won the trophy for the ‘North-South’ series with a 32-19 defeat in the decider at Trust House Memorial. But it took three moments of individual brilliance from exciting young winger Conall Doyle, veteran winger Nathan Hunt, and flanker Sam Twigley to break the stubborn Pioneer resilience.

Pioneer dominated large chunks of the final and fought back from 18 points down to trail 25-19 with 13 minutes to play before a stunning individual try from Twigley sealed the Martinborough victory.

Thompson was proud that his team never packed it in, saying that’s something he’s been working on for a long time, saying the team now stay in the game for the entire 80 minutes.

Pioneer could be without two of their Fijians who have made an impact, with flying winger Jimoci Vatunitu out with a dislocated shoulder and No. 8 Dan Nawaqavonuvonu doubtful with a leg string; however, Thompson said there is enough depth in the squad to cover their absence.

He is also confident his players can reverse last Saturday’s result and is keen to take on Martinborough at their expansive game.

“We would like to see our backs run against their backs, and we back our guys, but their defensive systems on the weekend were pretty good and impenetrable,” Thompson said.

“If we can stick to our game plan and get them on the ropes early, but it depends on how well they came off on Saturday, too, in terms of injuries and sore bodies.”

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Another entertaining clash is in store. Martinborough narrowly on their home patch.

Carterton vs Eketahuna

Carterton, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

Carterton will celebrate their strong Pasifika connection tomorrow, with several events planned for after the game against Eketahuna.

The “maroons” have a mix of Fijians, Tongans, Samoans, Cook Islanders, Tokelauans, and Vanuatuans, and president Steve Hurley feels it’s important to recognise the vital contribution they make to the club and the community.

He said it would be a normal day of rugby, but afterwards, Pasifika community leader Luther Toloa [a Tokelauan] would introduce the day, and the island community has organised some songs and dances, an umu and a kava ceremony, but it will be informal as possible and the Pasifika people will run the celebration. The dress code for the day is Pasifika for everybody.

On the field, Hurley expects Carterton to be back to full strength after resting several key players in last Saturday’s North-South third-fourth playoff loss [24-22] to Marist. He is confident the team will improve but said the other teams will too.

The game is shaping as a battle of the haves and have-nots.

While Carterton are flush with numbers, it’s a different story at Eketahuna, where coach Craig Pepperell faces a week-to-week challenge to name a full squad. Their 40-26 win over Greytown last week will be a good confidence booster for the side heading into the championship.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Carterton to take the points, but Eketahuna will be in the fight for a long time,

Gladstone vs Marist

Gladstone, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Marist will take a lot of confidence from their come-from-behind win over Carterton last weekend, having trailed 22-10 before a second-half rally saw them take the game 24-22. Numbers are good at Marist, and the team are starting to show improvement after a stuttering start. A solid forward pack should provide a good share of possession for a talented backline with players such as first-five Paddy Gluck, utility Tafa Tafa and exciting young winger Hayden Cooper capable of terrorising most opposition defences.

Gladstone showed some glimpses of good form with their 40-21 win over East Coast last Saturday, but again numbers have been a continual problem, and they will probably have to tap into the senior reserves to back up after their curtain-raiser.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Marist should take this, but if Gladdy have some key players front up, a home victory would not surprise.

Greytown vs East Coast

Greytown, 2.35pm [Steve Newson]

A battle between two clubs struggling to keep playing numbers up. They will be thankful their senior reserves are playing the curtain-raiser, so they can call on some of those players to back up if needed.

The Coasties appear to be the most affected by a lack of depth, but they’ve shown in their four games they’re a nuggety lot and won’t give up.

The return of experienced players, such as utility forward Tana Isaac, loose forward Rihi Brown, and utility back Nick Olson, have brought much-needed calmness to the Greytown side.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION:
Hard to get a gauge where the teams sit, but Greytown are slightly favoured in another close tussle.

SENIOR RESERVES

Defending champions Tuhirangi take on Masterton Red Star in the feature match at Pirinoa.

Both teams are unbeaten and have scored points for fun in their games so far, and a close, high-scoring match is on the cards.

Gladstone host Marist, Greytown and East Coast clash in the curtain-raiser at Greytown, and Martinborough and Pioneer play the early game at Martinborough.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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